County sets standards for subdivisions

Staff Written News

By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor 

Morgan County officials unveiled proposed regulations for the development of residential subdivisions throughout the county at a special-called public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 5. 

Director of Planning Chuck Jarrell presented the proposed regulations aiming to curb unwanted subdivision developments and giving the county stricter control over the process of approved subdivisions. 

The proposed regulations set out standards for the Agriculture Residential (AR) Zoning District, the Agriculture (AG) Zoning District, and the Low Density Residential (R1) Zoning District, increasing minimum lot size requirements, limiting the number of developable lots, increasing road frontage setbacks and buffers and requiring more greenspace to be preserved permanently for new subdivision developments projects. Any subdivision developments in AG must have a minimum of five acre lots. AR requires two acre minimum lots. The new regulations would limit road frontage subdivisions to no more than three lots. 

County officials noticed various subdivision developments that were built right along the road throughout the county and wanted to limit this trend. 

“It was becoming a problem,” said Chairman Philipp von Hanstein at Tuesday’s meeting. The county wants to retain the rural feel of Morgan County and ensure that new residential developments do not become too dense or impede upon existing property owners who favor minimal developments near their homes. 

“We want to hear from you,” said Chairman von Hanstein Tuesday morning.  “We can’t stop everything. We need to have a balance to keep our county nice but to honor people’s property rights.”

The county imposed a 90-day moratorium on all subdivision development projects back in October, which is set to expire on Tuesday, Jan. 19. 

After an increase of subdivision developments inside the county in the last few years, commissioners tasked planning staff to revise the ordinance to better regulate subdivision projects. County officials have been concerned with the development of residential subdivisions and voted unanimously to implement a 90-day moratorium on Tuesday, Oct. 20 while county planning staff reworks the zoning ordinance to address the current lacking standards. Commissioners are concerned that the current standards for residential subdivisions don’t require enough road frontage and buffers, as well as how land parcels are allowed to be divided and minimum lot sized requirements. 

Planning Director Chuck Jarrell pointed to recent subdivision developments along Brownwood Road, Fears Road, and Sandy Creek as evidence of the recent high demand for new residential subdivisions in the county. The moratorium postponed at least five potential subdivisions projects in the works.

Since then, county planning staff has researched subdivision restrictions and regulation option, crafting a complete overhaul of the county subdivision standards, proposing their recommendations on Tuesday, Jan. 5 for the first time. Morgan County has uploaded the proposed changes to their website (www.morganga.org). After hearing several comments from the public Tuesday morning, county commissioners urged citizens to review the changes and voice their input at the next public hearing slated for Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. 

Chairman von Hanstein noted that the commissioners do not want stop the development of new residential subdivisions, but want to ensure subdivisions are designed and constructed in keeping with the character of Morgan County. 

The Morgan County Board of Commissioners is asking citizens to review the new proposed regulations on subdivision developments that are now listed on the county’s website. 

Commissioners are hoping to hear from the public at the next public hearing before voting on the new regulations that evening, Tuesday, Jan. 19. If the commissioners do not hold a vote on the new regulations, the moratorium on residential subdivision developments will most likely be extended until new regulations are agree upon and adopted by the board of commissioners. 

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