Zoning amendment gets unanimous OK

120-day window in place for county to process applications

Posted 5/16/15

The Elbert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously approved an amendment to Elbert County's zoning laws at its regularly scheduled meeting on May 13. The changes formalize the way both the BOCC and the planning commission conduct …

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Zoning amendment gets unanimous OK

120-day window in place for county to process applications

Posted

The Elbert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously approved an amendment to Elbert County's zoning laws at its regularly scheduled meeting on May 13. The changes formalize the way both the BOCC and the planning commission conduct business.

Most significantly to the public, the new zoning laws specify a 120-day window for the commission and county staff to review and process applications. Any extensions beyond the 120 days would require a majority vote of the BOCC following recommendations from the planning commission.

The new regulations also codify the appointment process, identifying each appointment and its specific range of dates. In addition, each county commissioner may make one three-year appointment annually with the requirement that at least one of the three nominees resides in that commissioner's district. Each nominee must be a county resident and approved by a majority vote of the BOCC.

Commissioner Robert Rowland, who originally opposed limiting any appointments to a commissioner's district, spoke in favor of the revised paragraph.

“I think this is a great compromise,” Rowland said. “It sends a message that it is important to have diverse representation in a diverse county, and clearly the county is different on the east side than it is on the west side. This sends the message that we are striving to keep that mix and keep that diversity alive.”

The remainder of the changes to the zoning laws directed the internal processes and procedures of the planning commission, such as appointments by the planning commission of secretaries and individual member professional conduct, an area where there was some disagreement.

Commissioner Larry Ross supported reinstatement of language stricken from the document in March recommending a more detailed disciplinary process for sanction or removal of a planning commission member by the BOCC for misconduct. Ross favored a more formalized process, which included the requirement of a written charge.

“It does set a guideline to follow and a due process for someone who has been accused of misconduct,” Ross said.

Neither Commissioner Kelly Dore nor Rowland agreed with the need to establish progressive discipline for a body made up entirely of volunteers, and the amendment to the regulation was rejected by a 2-1 vote, with only Ross voting in favor.

The change to Part 1, Section 2 of the zoning regulations is part of the county's ongoing effort to formalize its business practices and a likely first step in further changes to Elbert County's zoning laws, which have been described by many as challenging.

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