Betty Stephens particularly liked the idea of a wider sidewalk — 5 feet instead of 4 feet — as marked off as a display at the community meeting on zoning and development regulations.
She grabbed hold of the handles of a baby stroller used as a prop in the display.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said the North Hall resident speaking at a community workshop Monday night as part of Hall County’s effort to gather public input for its Unified Development Code, an ongoing process to update the regulations.
A small group, including Stephens, turned out for the May 10 event, the first of two such meetings this week. The second is taking place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, at Mulberry Creek Community Center in South Hall.
For information about other area developments, view this map.
The stroller showing varying widths was one illustration of how development rules could be tweaked throughout the county.
The code “determines what kind of development happens in unincorporated Hall County, where it can be built, and how dense it is,” Planning Director Sarah McQuade has said. “A UDC also controls how development looks and works, including things like building materials, parking and landscaping.”
Hall says it has several goals in the effort, including promoting economic growth, avoiding “unnecessarily strict” regulations, making regulations easier to understand, ensuring high-quality development and balancing the preservation of farms, natural spaces and historic places with residents’ property rights.
Stephens said she felt it was important to attend Monday’s event “because I’ve always felt it’s important to keep up with what’s going on in Hall County.”
“I’ve been going to meetings for over 20 years and … have been on a lot of committees about development in Hall County,” she said. “I’m just concerned. I love Hall County and I’m glad to be a resident here.”
Stephens said improvements can be made in certain areas, but she believes that generally, development “is going in the right direction” in Hall.
Denise Conner, who owns a 70-acre cattle farm on the Hall-Lumpkin County line, said she has a major concern about the county’s efforts, which are slated to wrap up in late 2021.
Unified Development Code
What: Community workshop on Hall updates to zoning and development regulations
When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, at Mulberry Creek Community Center, 4491 J M Turk Road
What to expect: presentation about county effort, then breakout sessions where participants will answer questions, address issues
More info: hallcountyudc.com
“All of these things that Hall County is going to want to do is going to raise our taxes,” she said.
“How are we going to keep maintaining family farms when they’re going to tax us to death?”
Hall County says on a county website devoted to the effort that some “minor rezonings” might result as part of the effort. In that case, “property owners would be notified in advance of any potential rezonings,” the county says.
A primary aim of the effort is to clean up and make development regulations more understandable, the county says.
“By undergoing this process,” McQuade said, “the county will end up with one single document which provides citizens and the development community a clear understanding of the county’s land-use regulations.”