County passes zoning moratorium

By Billy Corriher

Starting Feb. 1, Clayton County will not issue any new zoning permits for residential or commercial development for six months.

The county Board of Commissioners approved the moratorium last week so the county would have time to revise its Comprehensive Plan.

Crandle Bray, chairman of the board of commissioners, said the temporary ban will affect any new permit applications for unincorporated areas of the county.

"If (a zoning permit) is already filed and pending, it'll go forward," he said.

Bray said that, without the moratorium, the Comprehensive Plan is always changing, and revising it while it's changing is like dealing with a "moving target." The moratorium will slow down development in the county for a while, he said.

Developer Robbie Moore said he doesn't think the moratorium will discourage any new projects in the county.

Moore said there are plenty of projects already approved and the county is being "inundated" with new zoning applications.

"Sometimes you have to slow down and let the government catch up with developers," he said.

Lee Walton, of the consulting firm Robert and Company, has been working on revising the county's Comprehensive Plan.

"(The moratorium) will take off a little of the pressure," Walton said.

The state mandates that all counties revise their plans every 10 years, and Clayton County's plan has to meet new state standards by October.

"Basically, (the state) has got more strenuous standards, especially for transportation," Walton said.

The increasing congestion of the metro-Atlanta area means the county will have to look at traffic volume and capacity in the new plan, he said.

The county will seek public feedback on the plan at information sessions planned for February, Walton said, but residents of different areas of the county will likely have different concerns.

In the southern part of the county, many rural areas remain that could be preserved.

"There, we'll be looking at open space preservation," Walton said, adding that, in northern Clayton County, there are many old developments that could be redeveloped.

"The question we'll be asking is ?what's the county's policy toward housing going to be in the future?'" Walton said.

In addition to housing density and the location of new developments, the revision of the Comprehensive Plan will also look at community facilities, economic development and natural resources.