Citizens of Elbert County expressed their concerns with approving an overlay map for the proposed Economic Development Zone, which members of the planning commission considered adding to the official …
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Citizens of Elbert County expressed their concerns with approving an overlay map for the proposed Economic Development Zone, which members of the planning commission considered adding to the official zoning map during the July 24 meeting.
The planning commission members voted unanimously to approve the amendment, which still must be voted on by the county commissioners.
The EDZ was approved as an amendent to the text of the Elbert County Zoning Regulation on March 28, with the purpose being “to promote economic activity and mixed uses along select Elbert County roadway corridors,” according to the summary of request dated July 12.
Any properties within a half-mile of the centerline of EDZ corridors could develop commercial property or build mixed-use developments.
While the EDZ was created to promote eonomic activity and allow freedom of property rights, many residents expressed opposition to the approval and what it could mean for their county.
“I’m concerned that this opens the door for big developers,” said Bob Ware. “This is not a good thing, and many people have said so, but in my opinion the (planning) commissioners never listen to the public.”
Nora Nickell told the commmission members that it was better to allow Elizabeth to grow from within, and that encouraging growth from without would not benefit the town and would cause disorganized growth.
The EDZ would exclude platted residential subdivisions, residential planned unit developments and properties within municipal boundaries of Kiowa, Elizabeth or Simla. Developments must meet certain criteria, including whether it is compatible with the Elbert County master plan, impact on provision of public services, and impact on the environment.
Grace Erickson, community development for the Town of Elizabeth, told commissioners she was opposed to the approval, and said Elizabeth had not yet received a response from the county regarding their many concerns.
Development of the EDZ has has brought mixed opinions from residents of Elbert County since December 2017, when the idea was first presented at a public open house, which drew about 30 community members.
Homeowners within the EDZ wouldn’t have to rezone their land, but would have the option to in the future.
“The planning commissioners need a better plan,” said Ware. “This is helter-skelter development. Right by use means there could be any business anywhere in the EDZ zoned area.”
According to Justin Klassen, director of administration of Elbert County, because the EDZ is in the hearing process, county commissioners couldn’t speak on the topic.
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