Planners pleased with Gov. Deal’s veto of Senate Bill 86
By Maria Saporta
Georgia planning professionals were relieved when Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill on May 17 that would have gutted the state’s local planning guidelines.
Senate Bill 86 — the Qualified Local Governments/Certified Retirement Communities — would have removed the requirement for communities to prepare comprehensive plans for their counties and cities.
The bill had been written to address concerns of smaller cities and counties over the state-imposed law (that’s been around since the days of Gov. Joe Frank Harris’ administration in the late 1980s) because of the costs of developing and maintaining the plans so they can be obtain certification for “Qualified Local Government” status.
Dan Reuter, land use division chief for the Atlanta Regional Commission, sent out an email to planning professionals about the governor’s veto.
In signing the veto, the governor stated: “While I am sympathetic to the desires of cities and counties to more easily attain such status, the Department of Community Affairs through the promulgation of its own internal rules and regulations, is already attempting to meet their needs. Accordingly, I do not believe this bill is necessary and therefore, I VETO SB 86.”
According to Reuter, the bill originally sought to eliminate the Qualified Local Government designation, but the final version kept that designation and proposed more basic minimum requirements for local comprehensive plans.
The bill also removed the existing “Developments of Regional Impact” (DRI) program and would have replaced it with a notification process.
Finally, the bill created a process for local governments to receive basic comprehensive plans at no cost from their local regional commission, but those agencies would not have received any additional state funding to put together those plans.
SaportaReport wrote about the issues surrounding the original bill in February.
The Georgia Planning Association was involved in reviewing the bill along with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the Georgia Municipal Association and other organizations.
It is expected that there will be continued discussion on the state’s planning requirements in the coming months before the next legislative session.
It appears the trend is downwards, towards poorer coordination of development; Gov. Deal chose a slower descent.
Instead of searching voters’ pocketbooks for more asphalt, our flirtation with regionalism should start with greater oversight of land-use. We should be asking voters if they are ready to trade the outdated perception of better living (and the resulting sprawl) for actual better living–shorter commutes, more culture, enhanced public spaces, and a host of secondary benefits like forest and wildlife preservation. (Indeed there are co-requisites, and re-factoring childhood education tops that list.)Report