The Planning Commission is discussing changes to Georgia’s zoning and planning practices

Sunday, June 4, 2023 – 1:05 p.m

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

The Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission has approved an amendment to the Unified Land Development Code that reflects changes made by House Bill 1405; Amendment of the Georgian Zoning Law.

A change extends the public notice period from at least 15 days to 30 days before a public hearing, according to Brittany Griffin, Rome-Floyd County’s lead planner.

“1405 was a house law that was passed last year and was the state’s response to local governments changing the single family ordinance to allow multifamily housing in single family areas,” she said. “Many municipalities and planners have introduced what is called a ‘smart code’, which essentially concerns the development or density of each type of zone.”

Planning Commission attorney Chris Jackson said the amendment, which must be adopted, more closely aligns the zoning hearings with the court hearings.

“These hearings are quasi-judicial hearings where the planning commission or the county commission makes a decision,” he said. “The 30-day window provides more protection for surrounding landowners.”

Another amendment to the Zoning and Planning Act requires that the property owner requesting the zoning change also be given at least 30 days’ notice prior to the public hearing.

HB 1405 also requires local government agencies to incorporate the State Zoning Act into the ULDC. A resolution must also be passed on appeals against decisions of the city commission, the district commission or the regulatory committee. An appeal is essentially a lawsuit, and the law seeks to eliminate any confusion as to who is served with the lawsuit.

“1405 says you have to declare who you serve,” he said. “With the Board of Adjustments, we indicate that you would serve as Planning Director as the BOA is not a recommendation body. This is what is known as a lower judiciary, which is basically someone who makes a decision that can be appealed to a higher court. As for a decision of the planning commission, which is ultimately decided by the city or the county, we have designated the mayor of the city or the chairman of the county commission as an appropriate person.”

The Planning Commission approved the resolution, which will now go to the full Rome City and Floyd County Commission for a vote.