McDuffie County Commissioners just wanted to make sure they were headed in the right direction.
The commission decided on Oct. 19 to ask for help with its zoning policies from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The plea comes after local developer Arthur Grimaud applied to build a subdivision that fell short of county standards in lot size and road frontage.
Not wanting to stifle potential growth in McDuffie, commissioners went to the DCA and asked that the ordinances restricting subdivisions be reviewed by experts there. Though not binding, an answer is expected by the Nov. 16 meeting.
"They have what they call resource teams that go out to communities and help you revamp your zoning ordinances and look at the way that you're growing, make sure it makes sense," said Commission Chairman Charlie Newton.
The studies DCA normally performs are very intense. The commission hopes to get a quick response so that members will know the best way to proceed with Mr. Grimaud's request as well as future issues that should arise.
"We do provide a variety of services," said Rick Brooks, director of planning and environmental management at DCA. "It kind of runs the gamut, either from one on one technical assistance to the resource teams."
Mr. Brooks said only four to five resource teams per year are sent out from DCA to conduct studies on communities' needs. The teams would then develop a plan for each of those communities. That was not quite the nature of the request from McDuffie County, as Mr. Brooks understood it.
"(The commission) just kind of suggested maybe that would be an interesting one for them to take a peek at and see what kind of response they have in terms of lot sizes and amenities and all of that type thing," said McDuffie County Manager Don Norton.
Recent classes Mr. Newton took suggested developments such as Mr. Grimaud's are the kind DCA would recommend that communities welcome. Subdivisions tightly clustered and close to a town with available infrastructure would leave farm land open, something on which DCA smiles.
"So rather than just say, 'That doesn't fit our zoning ordinance; No you can't do it, what we're going to do is talk to some folks up there," Mr. Newton said.
According to Mr. Newton, a possible solution is creating an additional residential zone for areas in close proximity to towns. Although it has not been proposed yet, this would allow for developments similar to Mr. Grimaud's.
"There's a lot happening in terms of this quality growth initiative," Mr. Norton said. "Some of the philosophies for subdivision planning have changed over the years and are getting to really have higher densities ... and use less land for residential purposes.
"This group is one of many expert committees that will review it and not only help with this particular subdivision but probably in the future when we get into modifying our ordinances or changing our land use plan."