Land Use Planning
The Conservancy works closely with land developers, government officials, and the public concerning land use planning matters in order to protect the natural, agricultural, and historic resources that are the basis for our two largest industries of agriculture and tourism, while allowing for smart development and growth. A case in point: The Conservancy recently helped draft a transferable development rights (TDR) ordinance for the City of Madison, which was adopted unanimously in May 2014. This innovative tool will help protect our important landscapes while simultaneously stimulating smart growth.
Another way the Conservancy helps with land use issues is through the Development Review Committee. In 2006 the Conservancy Board of Directors created this committee in order to review and comment on proposed developments in Morgan County and its municipalities in an effort to address elements of proposed development that may impact the area’s natural, agricultural, and historic resources. The goals of the committee are:
- To serve as a resource to the county and municipal planning departments
- To review applications submitted to the Morgan County Planning Commission to assess quality of design, consistency with the Greenprint and Comprehensive Plan, and appropriateness, as they relate to the Conservancy mission
- To present comments to the Planning Commission, Board of Commissioners, and/or appropriate City Council
- To recommend zoning ordinance and development regulation changes/improvements
Currently serving on the Development Review Committee are individuals involved in commercial real estate law, real estate development, real estate brokerage, agribusiness, forestry, city planning, etc. The committee invites the applicant to the committee meeting to review the proposal, after which the Committee submits a report to the Planning Commission.
Real estate development is a healthy part of a balanced tax base, provided that development is not rampant and for the sake of growth itself. Knowing the cost of development is key in determining which kind of development a community wishes to court. The cost of community services (how much it costs to provide the infrastructure required by new development) is key in determining the “cost of development.”
In 2008, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners commissioned a Cost of Community Services Study to determine the cost of residential, commercial, and industrial development in Morgan County. Click here to see Morgan County’s Cost of Community Services report. In short, it showed that for every dollar spent in providing services, residential paid $0.94 in taxes (less than than the cost of providing its required services), commercial and industrial $1.94 in taxes, and farmland and forestland paid $1.06 (the latter two categories pay more in taxes than they receive in services).
“Morgan County has one of the most balanced tax digests in the state” said Rope Roberts (GA Power Economic Development) in 2007 during the Conservancy’s Land Talks forum. Continuing that balanced growth will be key to the continued quality of life in Morgan County. The Conservancy aims to retain that balance and advocates for balanced growth. The Development Review Committee is a key component in that advocacy.
The Development Review Committee has reviewed nine development plans since 2006, reporting to the Morgan County Planning Commission on the pros and cons of each development plan, including:
- Were instrumental in securing four unanimous votes (County and Regional Commission) to deny an application for a regional landfill within 1.5 miles of the City of Madison.
- The Development Committee reviewed early plans for the project and commented favorably to the Morgan County Planning Commission during the rezoning request.