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Thread: Recommendations for a rural county considering zoning

  1. #1
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    Recommendations for a rural county considering zoning

    This forum has been very helpful on past rural issues. Let's give this a try.

    Does anyone have any model zoning codes they would recommend for a rural Georgia county considering adopting zoning for the first time? Also, any general (or specific) issues or recommendations for such a community.

    This is a very rural community, with few resources. The regional planning council will be providing technical assistance and, if the community agrees, will be developing the ordinance. I would just like to get perspective from a broader audience of planners, and if possible, have some options to discuss in terms of model codes for a rural county.

    Thanks,
    Moderator note:
    Maister: moved from land use and zoning forum
    Last edited by Maister; 20 Mar 2010 at 7:39 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    You may want to speak with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs as they may be able to assist you and your RDC with funding for ordinance writing. You will want to establish a stakeholder's committee made up of property owners, business owners, elected officials and possibly outside sources. This stakeholder's committee will drive the way the ordinances are written to be adopted by the elected body. Creating zoning ordinances for the first time can be exciting, yet apprehensive as you have those that will be completely against any government intervention of what one can and cannot do on their property but once they learn that zoning protects and enhances their property value they can become an asset.

    You mentioned that resources are limited so you may want present several surrounding jurisdiction's zoning ordinances to your identified stakeholder's committee and let them decide what they like vs. don't like and adopt something similar.

    **Nothing against consultants, but if you decide to hire a firm to write your ordinance do not be shocked to see many things that are not taylored to your specific area. Many ordinances are boilerplate. You don't have to cut the pattern to fit the clothe.**

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    We decided to go with all agricultural and residential zoning and then Conditional Use Permits for individual business CUP's. It is so hard to zone not knowing what might want to be there. It also takes care of Adult Super stores popping up all over.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    There's probably not a lot that can be done about existing buildings in existing towns, but not allowing new building in flood plains will save a lot of heartbreak and costs in the future.

    My hometown of Gowanda, NY got hammered by a nasty flood this past August. Fargo, ND, is getting hammered as we speak. These aren't one time "acts of God" things like tornadoes; floods happen in the same places over and over again.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    ttrs,

    Go to GAZA (Ga Association of Zoning Admin) website and download some of their pdfs of presentations.

    Very good basic info, esp one called Zoning 101, which references state laws regarding zoning and comp plans.

  6. #6
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    Alternatives to rural zoning

    I'd be interested to know if there are any county planning departments that have a set of development regulations but not zoning specifically. In many rural counties like our own, the "Z" word is akin to communism and socialism and must not be uttered let along discussed or adopted. So perhaps any county planning agency that uses a set of tools that could include site plan review, subdivision regulations, etc. but not zoning, please share your experiences, both good and bad. Would love to chat with you about how it works too....

    Thanks,

    C. Ryan
    Benton County, AR

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cjryan2006 View post
    I'd be interested to know if there are any county planning departments that have a set of development regulations but not zoning specifically. In many rural counties like our own, the "Z" word is akin to communism and socialism and must not be uttered let along discussed or adopted. So perhaps any county planning agency that uses a set of tools that could include site plan review, subdivision regulations, etc. but not zoning, please share your experiences, both good and bad. Would love to chat with you about how it works too....

    Thanks,

    C. Ryan
    Benton County, AR
    Depends on what you are looking to do. Zoning is the only tool that allows you to control land use. Subdivision regs, site plan regs, storm water, etc establish guildlines and development standards. that's it. Once people get over their initial fear of zoning, they realize there is far more good that comes out of it than bad.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Aside from the actual mechanics of the zoning, you'll want to do good PR. Get out in front early, and make sure the Agenda 21-prepper nutters don't derail your efforts. You aren't taking their property rights away.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    Aside from the actual mechanics of the zoning, you'll want to do good PR. Get out in front early, and make sure the Agenda 21-prepper nutters don't derail your efforts. You aren't taking their property rights away.
    I think most rural people who don't like zoning object to it because they think of it in terms of restricting what they can do. I think you may find success by reminding them that zoning also protects them -- and their property values and lifestyle -- from unwanted and detrimental land uses. Some examples:
    • a neighboring land owner mining gravel within a hundred feet of homes;
    • a tire dump;
    • subdividing a large acreage into a bunch of 1/2 acre parcels with inadequate water and sewage disposal that can drain or pollute neighbors' wells.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Midori's avatar
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    Facing this exact issue in one of my communities.

    Are there alternatives to the normal Euclidian zoning scheme that might work? Zoning everything A or R and then allowing other things by use permits might work, but on the other hand, I think it will create too much work for a planning commission that prefers minimal involvement. The risk in creating too stringent rules is that they will be overwhelmed and simply not follow them. Can a scheme be created that simply has separation requirements for certain uses (strip mining and noxious factories come to mind)?

    Also, is there any way we can call it something other than the "Z word"? I honestly think I might be tarred and feathered if I dare bring up that word. Will a rose by another name pass legal muster?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Midori's avatar
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    PS We already have sub regs. Applied with marginal uniformity and success.

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I think you can call the code whatever you want, ours is called a development code, but obviously run it by your attorney.
    I also think rural codes should be as simple as possible pointing out exactly what it is you want to control. If you want strip clubs and mining operations to be 1,000 feet apart then say that.
    The problem always starts when someone asks for things that haven't been though of like housing for the monkeys who harvest the wheat and are writing the great American novel on the side.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I think you can call the code whatever you want, ours is called a development code, but obviously run it by your attorney.
    I also think rural codes should be as simple as possible pointing out exactly what it is you want to control. If you want strip clubs and mining operations to be 1,000 feet apart then say that.
    The problem always starts when someone asks for things that haven't been though of like housing for the monkeys who harvest the wheat and are writing the great American novel on the side.
    At the end of the day, it is the Z word, no matter what else you call it. Like dvdneal said, keep it simple, straight foward and easy to administer. Also tailor it to the needs and issues of the jurisdiction. Boilerplated ordinances don't work well and you end up rewritting them anyway. Alos make it easy to defend and be able to draw a straight line between the regulations and the problems you are trying to solve/prevent.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plan_F's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I think you can call the code whatever you want, ours is called a development code, but obviously run it by your attorney.
    I also think rural codes should be as simple as possible pointing out exactly what it is you want to control. ...
    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    At the end of the day, it is the Z word, no matter what else you call it. Like dvdneal said, keep it simple, straight foward and easy to administer. ...
    These are great pieces of advice. You might want to see what your state enabling act requires or allows as a starting point. It may also help to get a sampling of ordinances in your part of the state and see the flavors that already exist and perhaps get some opinions on how they are working for those towns.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Midori's avatar
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    Wish me luck. Work session coming up to embark on introducing some level of site plan reviews in a county that is fundamentally opposed to zoning. As I see it, the big questions to raise are:

    1. What should be subject to site plan reviews? We don't have zoning districts, so we're looking at sensitive uses. Mining operations over X size (acreage? tonnage per year?), manufacturing operations over X size, adult entertainment, anything that uses explosives or potentially explosive materials (I'm looking at you, West, TX), multifamily dwellings with more than X units, feed lots (or keeping of agricultural animals over a certain density? This may have legal problems.), wireless transmission facilities. What have I left out?

    2. How are we gonna enforce this thing? They don't even issue building permits. Wait for a citizen to complain and then drive out to see that they are grading next to a church and then call up the builder and tell them to stop?

    3. How much should we spell out vs. leaving discretionary? As a lawyer, too much discretion makes me nervous. As a human being, too much inflexibility makes me nervous. Maybe some separation distances with the caveat that shorter distances may be approved with a discrete finding about the topography/use/buffering?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Midori's avatar
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    Ok, I've hit a snag (well, several, but right now I'm on one at a time).

    Uses that involve potentially explosive materials. Explosives per se aren't too hard--those are regulated by OSHA and the DOT and we can refer to those definitions. But I want to include things that COULD explode even though that isn't their intended use. Think pressurized gasses, fertilizer, etc. Anyone have good regs or defs for these? How technical to I have to get?

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Midori View post
    Ok, I've hit a snag (well, several, but right now I'm on one at a time).

    Uses that involve potentially explosive materials. Explosives per se aren't too hard--those are regulated by OSHA and the DOT and we can refer to those definitions. But I want to include things that COULD explode even though that isn't their intended use. Think pressurized gasses, fertilizer, etc. Anyone have good regs or defs for these? How technical to I have to get?
    Honestly, I'd call them a hazardous material and define hazardous material broadly enough to include them. Make sure you use the potentially in the definition. Unless you are trying regulation some ag related material, you shouldn't have a problem. if it is ag related. just site what happened in Texas.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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