Levy Court Commissioners agreed May 20 to revert land-use maps to the 2002 comprehensive plan in a move where future growth would be controlled through individual ordinances instead of designating density zones in a single document


    Levy Court Commissioners agreed May 20 to revert land-use maps to the 2002 comprehensive plan in a move where future growth would be controlled through individual ordinances instead of designating density zones in a single document.
 
   “If it’s working why do we have to change it?” asked Commissioner Harold K. Brode. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
 
   A working group, Regional Planning Commission and Levy Court worked for two years on creating the latest comprehensive plan for county growth required by state law. After months of workshops and public hearings, commissioners voted down the proposal in April over concerns raised by farmers who believe their property values would be devalued.
 
   The state requires a municipality to update its comprehensive plan every five years but it also requires any zoning changes to the map become law within 18 months after passage.
  
  This ultimately gave commissioners pause.
  
  Meeting for the first time since the contentious seven-hour previous hearing, commissioners decided it was best to move forward using the existing land-use map that outlines a growth zone but limits the density to seven units per acre at the most.
 
   The previous plan would have allowed up to 10 units per acre, an amount Commissioner W.G. Edmanson II was uncomfortable with.
   
“To open up that maximum density wouldn’t go over in my district,” he said.
Commissioners outline changes
  
  In agreeing to move forward with the latest plan, commissioners requested a few changes.
  
  They said the transfer of development rights program where developers buy farmland credits in order to build at higher density within the growth zone be encouraged by making the RPC the sole body of approval for concept plans. Streamlining the process would make it more appealing to those applying. Currently, the RPC and Levy Court must give approval for a TDR development to move forward.
 
   Existing commercial and industrial zones that were not noted on the previous map will be outlined on the new one.
   
Overall revisions to the new draft will include land-use ordinances passed since 2002. This includes the change of densities for developments built outside the growth zone created through the county’s ban of community wastewater treatment systems. The ban affects proposed major subdivisions not connected to the county sewer line.
  
  Properties with a county sewer connection are allowed the existing one unit per acre density, while those that don’t must follow a one for one acre density up to 10 unit developments; one for two acres from 11 to 25; one for three acres for 26 to 50; and one for four acres for 51 or more.
  
  “It’s not like what we have doesn’t allow for density,” Commissioner Eric L. Buckson said in reference to the recent approval of a 450-home development using the county’s transfer of development rights program.

    Commissioner Bradley S. Eaby was the only one to disagree with reverting to the 2002 comprehensive plan.
  
  “I don’t believe in scrapping this because it makes sense to do some planning,” he said.

Land-use management
through ordinances
  
  Though the 2002 land use plan doesn’t include the hierarchy of development zones the previously proposed one had, Buckson believes existing ordinances — the adequate public facilities ordinances and community wastewater treatment facility ban — and any future ones enacted will be sufficient in creating well thought out, planned communities.

    “I think we have the ability to manage development in the future through the ordinances we have in place now,” he said after the meeting.
 
   County Planning Director Sarah Keifer would not set a timeline for the new comprehensive plan process, but expects to submit the re-written plan to the state in June or July. It will take two months for the state to review it and then the workshop, public hearing process begins again.