2010 Georgia General Assembly

This overview of legislation from the 2010 Georgia General Assembly provides planning related legislative excerpts from Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) Legislative Updates as well as other sources. GPA members are encouraged to pursue knowledge of state law changes so that they can communicate effectively with elected officials, managers and other local stakeholders.

HB 277 Regional Transportation Sales Tax
(Conference Committee Report)
This legislation allows for a one-percent transportation sales tax approved regionally. The referendum to approve the tax is scheduled statewide, except in regions that opt out before the referendum, in the summer of 2012. Regions are based on Regional Commission boundaries and unique lists of projects will be developed in each region based on state priorities and local input. A new regional roundtable made up of county chairs and a mayor from each county will be set up this fall. The roundtables will meet to approve a project list or may decide to opt out of the tax. Voters may also reject the tax in their region. However, minimum match requirements for state transportation funds will be higher in regions that opt out or where voters do not approve the tax. A percentage of the overall revenues collected in each region (15% in metro Atlanta; 25% in every other region) will be returned directly to counties and cities based on a modified LARP formula for discretionary transportation projects. In addition to the regional sales tax, this legislation establishes a statewide human services transportation coordinating council and a metro Atlanta transit study commission.

SB 305 Increase Use of Design-Build and Create Intermodal Division at GDOT
(Sen. Jeff Mullis, 53rd)
This legislation doubles the amount of projects that the Department of Transportation can let under the design build delivery method to 30 percent of the total amount of construction projects awarded in the previous fiscal year through July 1, 2014. After that, it reverts to 15 percent. The legislation was amended to also create an intermodal division at GDOT.

SB 354 Allow Abandonment of County Roads if in Best Public Interest
(Sen. David Shafer, 48th)
Under current law, county roads can only be abandoned by the Board of Commissioners when no substantial public purpose is served by the road. However, this legislation would also allow commissioners to abandon a road when they determine that it is in the public’s best interest to do so.

SB 458 Require Seatbelt Use in Trucks
(Sen. Don Thomas, 54th)
This legislation requires people in pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans to wear a seatbelt unless they are using the vehicle for farming operations.

SB 456 Allow County Officials to Serve on DDA Boards
(Sen. Jeff Mullis, 53rd)
This legislation removes the restriction prohibiting county and city officials from serving on the Board of Directors of Downtown Development Authorities that are designated as urban redevelopment agencies

HB 169 Georgia GIS Advisory Council
(Rep. Earl Carter, 159th)
This legislation requires the Department of Natural Resources to establish the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council to audit Georgia’s GIS capabilities at the county, regional and state level. The Council shall make recommendations to the General Assembly on how to move forward in achieving governmental GIS interoperability for the benefit of Georgia citizens in the areas of floodplain management and notification, service delivery, transportation, public safety and economic development, among others.

HB 516 Can’t Restrict Industrialized Homes
(Rep. Jay Roberts, 154th)
This legislation prohibits counties and cities from treating industrialized buildings any differently from buildings constructed on site so long as the former is designed and constructed in compliance with the state minimum standards codes. All zoning, land-use, setback, subdivision regulation, and architectural and esthetic requirements are reserved to the local government; however, no ordinances can apply strictly to industrialized homes that don’t apply to stick-built homes.

HB 867 Create the Commission on Regional Planning in Statute
(Rep. Ron Stephens, 164th)
This legislation codifies the Commission on Regional Planning created through an Executive Order in 2009. The Commission is responsible for managing the relationship between the state and regional commissions. It will coordinate state contract terms, identify appropriate funding, coordinate planning of state and federal resources and identify issues and opportunities requiring state, regional or local action. The composition of the board is included in the legislation.

HB 1196 Prohibit Counties from Requiring Fire Sprinklers in Homes
(Rep. Terry England, 108th)
This legislation prohibits both state and local governments from adopting building codes requiring fire sprinklers to be installed in single family dwellings or duplexes.

SB 384 No Mobile Home Age Restrictions
(Sen. John Bulloch, 11th)
Under this legislation local governments cannot prohibit manufactured homes from coming into their communities (or being moved within) based solely on their age. However, counties and cities are allowed to set health and safety regulations and mobile homes will have to abide by all local zoning and land use ordinances.

SB 390 County and City Conservation Easements
(Sen. Earl Buddy Carter, 1st)
Under this legislation, cities and counties are allowed to sell or grant to any holder a conservation easement over any of their real property, including but not limited to any real property set aside for use as a park.

SB 390 County and City Conservation Easements
(Sen. Earl Buddy Carter, 1st)
Under this legislation, cities and counties are allowed to sell or grant to any holder a conservation easement over any of their real property, including but not limited to any real property set aside for use as a park.

SB 370 Comprehensive Water Package
(Sen. Ross Tolleson, 20th)
All state agencies addressing Georgia’s water issues have until August 1, 2010 to examine their programs, policies and rules and submit a report identifying opportunities to provide incentives for voluntary water conservation measures (for local water systems) and to enhance the state’s water supply. Public water systems serving at least 3,300 individuals will have to conduct standardized annual water loss audits (by January 1, 2012 for systems serving at least 10,000 individuals and by January 1, 2013 for all the rest). Rules for conducting and reporting these audits will be promulgated by theDepartment of Natural Resources. Additionally, all new multi-tenant residential, commercial and industrial buildings permitted after July 1, 2012 must have submetering installed and new construction must have toilets not to exceed 1.28 gallons per flush, showers that average less than 2.5 gallons of water per minute, lavatory faucets of no more than 1.5 gallons per minute and kitchen faucets not to exceed 2 gallons per minute. Local governments, responsible for enforcement, could grant certain, limited exemptions to these low-flow requirements.

SB 432 Advanced Broadband Collocation Act
(Sen. Lee Hawkins, 49th)
In order to encourage collocations over building new cell towers, SB 432 provides a streamlined collocation process whereby wireless providers are able to make modifications to their equipment on existing towers, or collocate equipment on existing towers, without going through an entire rezoning or additional special land use permit. The streamlined process would be available so long as the collocation does not increase the height or width of the tower, does not increase the footprint of the accessory equipment, and does not exceed applicable weight limits of the tower. Wireless companies still have to comply with any applicable site plan and building permit requirements set on the existing tower and would have to comply with zoning and land use requirements generally, including any conditions placed on the use when initially approved — and any subsequently-adopted amendments to such conditions of approval.

SB 346 – Overhaul of Property Assessment and Appeals Process
This legislation makes numerous changes to the state’s property tax assessment and appeals process. Major changes include:

  • Every property owner will receive an annual notice of current assessment regardless if the property value has changed or not.
  • The annual assessment notice shall contain an estimated tax bill. This estimate may or may not contain all the eligible exemptions.
  • After a property owner receives their annual assessment they would have 45 days to file an appeal of assessed value instead of 30 days.
  • Two or more counties, by an intergovernmental agreement, may establish a regional Board of Equalization.
  • Non residential properties worth over $1 million in value may choose to have their appeal heard by hearing officer. The hearing officer must be either a state certified general real property appraiser or state certified residential real property appraiser and be approved by the Georgia Real Estate Commission and the Georgia Real Estate Appraisers Board.
  • The Department of Revenue shall update the courses of instruction for members of Boards of Equalization.
  • The sales price of the most recent arm’s length bona fide sale in any year shall be the maximum allowable fair market value for the next taxable year.
  • The determination of fair market value of a real property shall not include the value of intangible assets.
  • Cities and counties may by resolution or ordinance elect to receive payment for as valorem taxes in any form of payment.