Representatives of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) heard concerns raised by many of the 65 attendees of the April 25th GPA Half-day event in Cartersville. DCA staff member Jon West led an informative and honest discussion of the draft DCA changes to the State Planning Standards. If approved this fall by DCA representatives, the changes would be effective January 1, 2013. The new changes would require a much more basic comprehensive plan of many communities than the current standards, and regional commissions would plan a greater role in drafting the comp plans than today. Some attendees voiced concerns that certain components of comprehensive planning, including subjects such as public safety, hazard mitigation, and environmental planning, might be left out of the process. DCA staff members are also speaking about the draft changes to representatives of ACCG, GMA, and other groups during the year.
Brandon Bowen of Jenkins & Bowen P.C. also spoke during the event on unusual uses that have been proposed in a variety of cities and counties in Georgia, especially those in metro Atlanta and communities with interstate access. Mr. Bowen focused on internet cafes, legitimate pain management clinics versus illegal pill mills, and hookah bars. He discussed Senate Bill 431, which passed the legislature this year and seeks to address the growing problem of establishments that attempt to skirt the state’s gambling laws.