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Tattnall commissioners hold land use workshop

The Tattnall County Commissioners held a workshop on land use and development on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at 10 a.m. in the Commission Meeting room of the Tattnall County Court-house. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the need, including positive and negative as-pects, for land use zoning in Tattnall County as a result of land use issues surrounding the Hyundai automotive plant under construction in Bryan County.

Chairman Jackie Trim mentioned that the workshop was designed to help clarify the need and provide discussion on how to go about the process to protect Tattnall County residents in a way that is fair and equitable.  As he has said previously, the Commissioners are not interested in telling landowners what they can do with their land, but there is a need to protect Tattnall communi-ties from use by individuals or companies that might build an operation that would reduce the value of surrounding property or be dangerous.  Virtually everyone present agreed the time to study and consider such protective measures is now.  

Chairman Trim introduced Mr. Brett Manning, the Executive Director of Heart of Georgia Altama-ha Regional Altamaha Commission (HOGARC), who was present with his staff to facilitate the workshop.  Manning introduced Anna Weaver, Director of Planning HOGARC, who defined a Zoning Ordinance as a tool in two parts.  According to Weaver, the text states what/how the site may be used and the map indicates where.  Overall, it functions to prevent such obvious misalign-ments as placing a liquor store next to a school or church, or a chemical factory in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Tattnall zones would probably include farmland, residential, and industri-al.

A zoning ordinance would not impact current individual use of property as those currently using their property for a specific purpose would be grandfathered in. But, lack of use of the specified nature of the business could result in action against the owner / operator. Specifically the property could not be listed for a certain purpose and be used for something else. 

County Engineer Dennis Odom stated that some specific uses such as cell towers, solar farms, tiny houses, mobile home parks, and recreational vehicle parks made up most of the requests for special usage and so far there had been few complaints from locals. Cell towers seemed to create the most criticism. 

Weaver pointed out that various areas of the state would have differing zoning regulations based on their needs.  Zoning in Tattnall would be completely different from zoning in Chatham, Bibb, or Fulton or other metropolitan areas in Georgia.  The closest rural county to address the zoning issue is Candler, and it is an ongoing process that is being amended as necessary.  It was pointed out that Tattnall could benefit from mistakes Candler zoning officials made in the original drafting, some of which are now being amended. One individual who lives on the Candler/Tattnall line stated that Candler officials did not keep the citizens abreast of developments, which resulted in a lack of con-fidence.

Weaver noted that a variance could be allowed by the Commissioners in specific cases, 

but another individual in the audience said citizens must have confidence that the rules were being applied fairly.

No action was taken by the Tattnall Commissioners, as the workshop was designed as an educational process to help officials and citizens understand the need and the process.  However, with rapid industrialization in Bryan County along with reports of dissatisfied citizens, the com-missioners seemed receptive to working with HOGARC to further investigate the advantages of a zoning ordinance to protect Tattnall Citizens and the County Government.