BRASELTON — At first glance, the Braselton Farms subdivision may look like any other neighborhood in Jackson County — rows of homes on different streets, cars in the driveways and holiday decorations on the doors and windows.
But there’s more here than meets the eye, as the county commission and other county officials saw Monday morning on a bus tour of a few neighborhoods in Jackson County.
The tour hit four subdivisions and an industrial complex and was designed to give the commission a sample of the issues the planning department has run into in the last several months when it comes to issuing building permits and encouraging county growth, said Gina Mitsdarffer, planning manager for Jackson County.
The five stops had several problems in common — overgrown grass and shrubs, soil erosion issues, roads and sidewalks that remain unfinished and other violations of the county’s Unified Development Code — and this can be problematic when it comes to issuing building permits.
“The bank is wanting to build on lots in this subdivision. But per our UDC, they’re (the subdivisions) not meeting subdivision requirements so I can’t legally issue a building permit,” Mitsdarffer said. “In order to issue building permits they have to come into compliance with the UDC.”
The various empty lots in four subdivisions on the bus tour are proof of the once-booming housing market’s decline in recent years.
The Scenic Falls of Braselton neighborhood has parking spaces around an open green space that’s meant for an amenities area, County Manager Darrell Hampton explained on the trip.
Residents in the Scenic Falls subdivision have made efforts to maintain the grounds — one resident even goes so far as to mow the grass in the other lots as part of the upkeep, Hampton said — and their frustration with the problems in their neighborhood were brought to the commissioners’ attention visually on Monday with the bus tour.
Information gathered on the tour will help in the county’s efforts in updating its comprehensive plan, which must be completed and sent to the state in October 2010.
A comprehensive plan is a document that describes how the county will change and grow in the next 10 to 20 years, and it acts as a guideline for local government officials in their decision making.
The commission will have a retreat next Wednesday to discuss the plan’s progress and possible changes to the unified development code.