How much zoning restriction does the City of Yatesville want or need, and who is going to enforce zoning laws? Those are the questions the Yatesville City Council must answer before they can begin to formulate possible zoning requirements for future businesses inside city limits.
The issue of zoning laws came up after Dollar General purchased a house and property on Highway 74, tore the house down, and is in the process of building a store on the site. Yatesville currently has no zoning ordinances and has no say in what can be built or where, or on the type of signage the store can have.
The council asked Upson County Planning and Zoning Director Doug Currier to come to their January meeting to talk about what could be done. At the council meeting on January 14, Currier told the members they have several options in the kind of zoning laws the want.
“You’ve got every alternative from just adopting one or two ordinances – maybe just a sign ordinance or something like that – to adopting an entire zoning ordinance, which would then place a zoning district on each property within your jurisdiction. You’ll have to decide what you want,” said Currier. “And also recognize that if your standards are higher than the standards around you, development will just go outside the boundary where the requirements are a little less. You may not have it within your corporate limits, but it will still be there. But you need to decide what level you want your standards at and does it matter relative to the impact your standards will have.”
Currier stated that the council also has a variety of options when it comes to developing ordinances. They can work out an agreement with the county for Currier to work on the ordinances, use the Three Rivers Regional Commission, or hire a private contractor.
Another thing they need to decide on, Currier noted, is who will enforce the zoning laws.
“Obviously the ramification is that somebody has to administer the ordinance, whether it is just a sign ordinance or a whole zoning ordinance. Again, you’re going to have to decide whether you are going to contract with the county to help you out, or whether you hire your own staff, or hire a private sector company or individual to do that for you.”
Council member Phyl Gatlin, who has come out the strongest against the encroachment of business on residences in Yatesville, stated the new store took them by surprise.
“We’re a bedroom community, so we’re not really interested in growth,” said Gatlin. “We can’t support an industry in any way. So what we are looking to do is protect our people from having a business pop up in their backyard. We want to protect our residents.”
Council member Wanda Dozier asked how close a business can come to a residence. That is what she believes is the city’s biggest problem.
Currier responded that it is almost impossible not to have businesses next to residences, but that there are laws that allow for buffering.
“Normally in a zoning ordinance, you have buffer areas or yards. You determine how big that is, said Currier. “Depending on your parcel, you can’t make them so big that you outlaw any business that might come into town, but you can require vertical buffers – fences, walls, vegetation – a landscape ordinance. The City of Thomaston has a little bit of a landscape ordinance in certain areas, the county has no landscape ordinance. That is something you could think about – just a simple landscape ordinance. You wouldn’t need zoning for that. If you just say that wherever you go, you have to have certain buffering if you’re a commercial use. But if you don’t want to go all the way, just think about a landscape buffering ordinance.”