The Comprehensive Plan as a general goal and policy guide to land conservation and development in Marion County has little meaning if it is not carried out with specific land use actions.

Implementing programs need to be developed to achieve the intent of the Plan. These programs can take many forms. The County presently has several land use control mechanisms such as zoning and subdivision ordinances that control land use activities to assure compatibility with the Comprehensive Plan. It is also necessary that these programs be maintained so that conflicts do not exist between the Plan and the implementing ordinances. There are also assistance programs and incentives to accomplish the intent of the Plan.

The relationship between the Comprehensive Plan and implementing devices is important to understand. The Comprehensive Plan and zoning have often been confused and their various roles misunderstood by the public. The Comprehensive Plan is not a zone map. Zoning simply attempts to accomplish the recommendations described in the Comprehensive Plan.

The following is a discussion of the more commonly used implementation programs and their relevance to the Comprehensive Plan.


The relationship between zoning and the Comprehensive Plan has been continually misunderstood. The Comprehensive Plan is not a zone ordinance. Zoning is the most widely used tool to direct and control specific uses of property. A zoning ordinance has been adopted by the Marion County Board of Commissioners and is implementing the Plan in the County by establishing land use control zones. Within a land use plan designation, there may be several zones that will accomplish the intent of that designation. For example, an area designated in the Plan for rural residential may be zoned any one of several zones that permits residences. The particular zone will be based upon the type of conditions in that area and how they apply to the rural development policies of the Plan.

Any zoning proposal, whether on a large area basis or an individual property, must be determined to be consistent with the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan. Where a conflict exists between the Plan and existing zoning, the Plan directives must prevail.


The other most widely used land use control mechanism is the subdivision or land division control ordinance. This ordinance sets guidelines and standards for the manner in which land is divided and developed. Marion County has had a subdivision ordinance in effect since 1962. Included in the ordinance are both subdivision and partitioning procedures, standards and decision criteria.


Building codes are ordinances adopted by the County and State to assure safety standards for structures. The use of land often involves construction of buildings for residential, commercial, industrial and other numerous purposes. The construction of buildings that meet minimum safety standards is consistent with the overall goals of Marion County to create a safe and desirable county in which to live and work.

Sanitation codes are similar to the building permit program except they are intended to establish and enforce environmental health and quality standards. These standards set minimum limits for environmental degradation due to a domestic and industrial sewage disposal, solid waste disposal, indirect water pollutants and domestic water supply.

One of the more significant sanitation issues in rural Marion County is placement of septic tank sewage disposal systems to serve rural residences. Their dependence on soil for effluent disposal is a critical land use issue of adequacy of location and density of development of residences. Therefore, control of their use is essential to achieving the goals of the Plan.


Positive mechanisms to achieve Comprehensive Plan Goals include tax incentives that may be applied to the use of individual properties. Such inducements as farm, timber and open space tax deferrals are available with the express intent of protecting rural resource lands.

These programs help reduce the pressure to develop rural lands by minimizing the adverse impacts of property taxes on rural lands.


Federal and State monetary grants and low interest loans are available to assist certain people to achieve a minimum standard of living. Such programs as housing rehabilitation provide assistance to low income residences to correct substandard and inadequate housing conditions.

Other grant programs offer assistance for sewer and water projects, social service programs, land use planning and other topics. Coordinating grant requirements with the Comprehensive Plan directives is a positive tool to accomplishing the intent of the Plan.


One of the more critical plan implementation programs is Marion County’s coordination and cooperation with the cities, special interest groups and other counties. Planning issues often have regional implications that affect several jurisdictions. To carry out not only the County Plan but also to aid other jurisdictions to accomplish their goals and policies, coordination agreements and cooperative decisions must be made.

As discussed in the urbanization section, coordination between the cities and Marion County is vital to achieving urban area plans. The cities have the primary interest in the lands within urban growth boundaries while the County has jurisdiction over land use changes. The similar situation exists in rural areas with special districts such as water control, sewer and water or school districts. Land use decisions made by the County may drastically affect logical and efficient provision of services by the district.

Marion County has achieved urban area agreements with the 19 cities in Marion County to coordinate land use issues.

There is approximately 32 percent of the total land area of Marion County in Federal ownership as shown in the Background and Inventory Report. The various administering agencies are directed by Federal laws and are not subject to County ordinances. They are, therefore, not required to apply to the County for land use changes.

Recent Federal laws, such as the Federal Land Policy Management Act of 1976, require Federal agencies to coordinate with local plans and programs. The Federal agencies are expected by Marion County to comply with the County Plan and ordinances in the development and administration of public lands.

In adopting agreements and recognizing regional and other jurisdiction’s plans, the County is committed to the vital coordination that is necessary to accomplish effective planning for the area.