As people move west from Augusta, housing developments are popping up across McDuffie County. Before the growth boom hits its stride, local leaders are considering an update to the subdivision regulations to better manage that growth.
"The board wants to get some new reasonable guidelines in place before that growth really hits," said McDuffie County Manager Don Norton.
A public hearing on the regulations for new subdivisions is scheduled for May 15 at 6:30 p.m. Mr. Norton said another hearing may be scheduled later, but everyone agreed that moving quickly is paramount.
"We're getting overflow, now, development flow from Richmond and Columbia County," said McDuffie County Planning and Zoning Director Fred Guerrant. "We need to tackle this issue now before all of this gets started."
The proposed regulations, as they stand now, clarify the procedures that developers must go through to have a subdivision approved by the county, according to Mr. Guerrant.
The big issue is the inclusion of several more required improvements. Those include concrete curb and gutter, sidewalks, underground electrical service, street lighting, green spaces, entrance landscaping, turn lanes and an increased number of entrances, depending on the road frontage.
"You bring up the standards so not only does it look nice, it's maintainable long-term," said Commission Chairman Charlie Newton. "...You put in quality subdivisions, and the maintenance is not nearly as hectic as it is on the ones that aren't built correctly."
Mr. Guerrant said one controversial issue likely to surface during discussion could be a possible requirement for developments to be closer to more densely populated areas, like Dearing and Thomson.
"That's a very complicated issue because you're telling individuals where and where not they can put their subdivisions," Mr. Guerrant said. "...The premise is, let's at least try to get them closer to the cities and provide them with water, sewer, gas, recreation and that type thing."
Chairman Newton said requiring sewage connection for subdivisions could be a way to keep the growth centered where amenities are readily available.
"If you said 100 percent for sure you will have sewer available in your subdivision, that pushes them to some very specific areas," he said. "...That makes your growth grow around the services."
Commissioners will review the proposal from the Planning and Zoning Department and consider any changes suggested by the public. While the proposal is under review, commissioners can add to or take away from the suggested regulations.
Mr. Norton said a final vote is not expected after the first public hearing, but if commissioners are happy with the document, there is a chance they could vote on it at that time.