All of Banks County’s planning and zoning related ordinance and codes are being updated and combined into one unified development code. This includes zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, street name and house numbering guidelines, sign regulations, manufactured home/RV park regulations, soil erosion and sedimentation control, watershed protection requirements and flood damage prevention.
Consultant Bill Ross gave an update on the project at a joint meeting of the Banks County board of commissioners and planning commission on Wednesday, April 21.
The update will include all of the latest state requirements and Supreme Court rulings and will remove inconsistencies in current ordinances.
“To the greatest extent feasible, current standards and requirements remain in place while extensive work has focused on clarifying those standards and requirements and filling in missing items,” Ross wrote in a report to the county.
The UDC includes information on addressing the transition to the new code. Previously issued building and development permits will remain valid if construction has begun or is started within six months of the permit being issued. Grandfathered or non-conforming development remains in place. A nonconforming use that has been discontinued for one year can not be reestablished.
The new code includes a design overlay district for Banks Crossing and the Martin Bridge Road area.
Also in the new code, all allowed uses in each zoning district are consolidated into a single table showing all zoning districts. All building setback and lot dimensional standards are also consolidated into a single table covering all zoning districts (except for planned unit developments where the standards are included as part of each zoning approval). Minimum lot sizes and setbacks will remain the same.
As for subdivisions, they are designated as “minor subdivisions” for those with no new streets and “major subdivisions” for those with new streets. A new type of subdivisions, an “open space subdivision,” is also created. An owner’s association is required for any development that contains open space or land in common ownership (this would include recreation facilities such as a swimming pool or tennis courts).
Sign regulations have been completely rewritten to be content neutral, as required by the courts, while basically retaining the current size, number and placement regulations.
Regulations are included for buffers between incompatible uses, as well as frontage landscaping and parking lot landscaping for multi-family and nonresidential uses.
Project design and construction standards are updated, including clearer requirements for maintenance warranty and performance guarantees after developments are completed.
Stormwater management requirements are updated to reflect new federal requirements.
The development review and approval process is simplified and clarified.
Variances are separated into special exemption variances, hardship variances and flood damage prevention variances.. Variances require a planning commission public hearing and a county commission public hearing. Administrative approval of very minor special exceptions is allowed. Appeals from an adverse administrative decision goes directly to the board of commissioners.
Those attending the meeting were: BOC members Joe Barefoot, Charles Turk and Ernest Rogers; planning commission members Alicia Andrews, Sammy Reece and Albert Ward; county staff Jenni Gailey, Erin Decker and Keith Covington; and chamber of commerce director Tara Fulcher.