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City to modernize development standards
Plan would include complete rewrite of zoning ordinances
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    The Statesboro City Council’s vote Tuesday against city and county consolidation overshadowed a big investment by the city to modernize its development standards.    
    In a unanimous vote, the council voted to finalize contract negotiations with the Lott-Barber consulting firm to perform a complete a unified land development code of the city, which would include a complete rewrite of the planning and zoning ordinances.
    City Manager Shane Haynes said rewriting the codes was identified as a project three of four years ago and is a topic that has been discussed with Planning Director Christian Lentz since Lentz was hired last December. Haynes said most of the city’s building and zoning codes were written in the 80s, which has lead to conflicts and inconsistencies, especially when dealing with new building techniques or more modern land use guidelines.
    “The basic premise for rewriting the code is to get a general update for all of our zoning and land use ordinance for the city,” Haynes said. “A great many things have changed in regards to land use patterns and needs over those years. The council and the staff felt it was time to do a comprehensive update.”
    Last year, to meet state requirements, the city updated its long-term comprehensive plan – a document that will guide the city’s growth and development for the next 20 – 30 years. In addition to adding modern architectural and design techniques, Haynes said he wants the new codes to match the vision of the comprehensive plan and wants the plan to “come to life through the codes themselves.”
    “We want to make it user friendly in the sense that it’s in more plain language in some areas where there is ambiguity or poor word choice,” Haynes said. “It will be totally revamped – from parking standards to landscaping standards, setbacks, zoning classifications - A to Z, soup to nuts, all of it will be completely redone.
“It’s a very big and very involved process.”
    At a cost of over $257,921 the project will take about 24 – 27 months to complete. The monies will be paid for with city funds and budgeted over the city’s next three financial years.
    The city plans to coordinate with the county, possibly to create an increased level of zoning in the urban core area that surrounds the city limits. Any change to the county’s planning and zoning ordinances would have subject to a vote and approval of the county board of commissioners. The city also plans to form a citizen advisory committee to give input to the consultants.
    In addition, the council voted to purchase a new fire truck for the amount of $362,186. And they voted to use previously awarded low-interest loan monies from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, which had not been used for the Cawana Road sewer extension project, to begin Phase I of the Lakeview Road Water/Sewer project.
    The council also amended the city’s ordinance regarding water service to multiple unit dwellings. No longer will a property owner be able to build a duplex or other multiple-unit dwelling without having a separate water meter for each unit. The change is to align with state guidelines and research which show that tenants on individual meters tend to use less water than those in unmetered units. Existing units are grandfathered in.
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