Stephens Co. Holds Land Use Public Hearing

February 26, 2014

Most of the speakers at a Tuesday public hearing on a proposed Stephens County land use ordinance say they are in favor of it.

Stephens County Commissioners held the public hearing and first reading of the proposed land use ordinance at their meeting on Tuesday.

The proposed land use ordinance sets up classifications for different types of properties and lays out rules for properties that would fall into those different categories.

Eight individuals spoke in favor of the proposal.

County resident Tim Hale is one of many people who said that without land use, StephensCounty is targeted by what he calls unscrupulous businesses.

“When you are surrounded by communities who have land use regulations and you do not have land use regulations, you become a magnet for people who would use the community for their purposes and their own purposes alone,” said Hale.

Meanwhile, former Stephens County Commissioner Jonesy Haygood said that it will make sure that everyone’s property is protected.

“It is not me who is going to go out and influence and downgrade my neighbor,” said Haygood.  “I just want to keep my neighbor from doing it to me.”

Haygood said he thinks the county needs to look at the ordinance and make sure everything is properly defined within it.

Some did express concerns about the ordinance.

Local resident Denman McFarlin said he is concerned about limiting what people can do on their property.

“I do not think we need to be in areas that we cannot sell to someone that is going to do something that is right,” said McFarlin.

Meanwhile, former Stephens County Commissioner Rex Anderson said he is concerned people do not fully understand the ordinance.

“I am concerned that there is not probably one percent of the people in StephensCounty that has a copy of this ordinance or has an idea of what this ordinance really truly does,” said Anderson.

Anderson also said he felt the issue should be put to the public for a vote on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Stephens County Commission Chairman Stanley London also spoke, saying that he is afraid that the ordinance could grow and get out of hand and adds that it is not a cure-all for the county’s problems.

The Stephens County Commission will hold another public hearing and a second reading of the proposed land use ordinance at its meeting on March 11.

It is at that meeting that the commission is expected to vote on whether or not to adopt the ordinance.

In the meantime, county staff and/or Land Use Committee members are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Stephens County Tax Assessor’s Office in the Stephens County Government Building and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. in the historic Stephens County Courthouse to take comments and questions on the plan.

In addition, a link to download the proposed land use ordinance is available on the county’s website, www.stephenscountyga.com.

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