Land use discussion runs nearly 5 hours

It took the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners nearly five hours to discuss 31 proposed changes to the county’s land use ordinance at a work session last Thursday.

The changes will be presented at the board’s next meeting, Oct. 13 and then be advertised.

Final adoption of the changes are scheduled to be made at the December BOC meeting, following public hearings beforehand.

One of the major changes considered was changing the regulations for splitting lots into parcels. Currently, landowners can combine land plats into one taxed plat but later split when developed. They can only split the plats twice a year, however.

County Attorney David Clark explained landowners can create one plat to save on their taxes.

“They might pay only $1,200 or $1,500 in taxes, but when they subdivide, they can sell each parcel for $25,000,” he said.

The switching back and forth causes problems for the tax assessor’s office and Clerk’s Office, he added.

Shannon Bassett, planning and zoning director, said the splitting has a snowball effect because the divided lots can then be divided again, making three plats out of what was originally only one.

BOC Chairman Charlie Paris said the board will consider allowing two splits a year but use the tax assessor’s office records as official. The splits can occur during any calendar year to comply with the tax assessor’s office recordkeeping. 

The commissioners also discussed changes with the hobby livestock section of the ordinance to clarify the number of animals allowed.

If approved, residents will be allowed to keep six rabbits or chickens in an enclosure without having to get a hobby livestock permit.

However, they suggested changes for rural areas to allow one large animal (300 pounds or more) and two small animals (less than 300 pounds) per two acres, double the current acreage. Owners also can have six chickens per acre but they would not be required to be in an enclosure. 

The changes do not affect domesticated pets such as dogs or cats.

Another related change would reduce the current 20-acre minimum for intensive livestock operations to 14 acres. 

Mark Hice told the board he could not sell his current 18-acre farm and still maintain the land portion for his homesite because of the current regulations.

The board also suggested creating a new zoning category to be called institutional zoning to include schools, churches, cemeteries and government buildings.

New homebuilders would be given 12 months after obtaining a building permit before it would have to be renewed. The current limit is six months.

All applications for halfway houses and rehab facilities would be classified as conditional, not permitted, and require a public hearing before adoption by the board.

“I hope we can get all this accomplished by the December meeting,” Paris said after the four-hour, 45-minute work session.

Times Courier

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