Planning & Zoning
Dutchtown Activity Center FAQ
What is this?
Let’s break it down into various parts starting with “Activity Center.”
What is an “Activity Center” (as used in this context)?
- Activity Centers are included on Henry County’s Future Land Use Map within the Comprehensive Plan to be master planned at a later date.
- Master planning means determining where various types of new development can go, including streets, private property, and open space.
- The “master plan” will be enforced by a change in the law called an “overlay district.”
- The “overlay district” will also determine what new construction will look like.
What is a “School Node?”
- A “school node” has been determined to be a particular type of activity center centered around certain schools in Henry County.
- The activity center planned for the Dutchtown area is centered around the Dutchtown school complex and therefore is a “school node.” For an example, please view this PDF.
It is not just the Dutchtown schools.
- The plan assumes that clustering “new development” around schools will modify people’s driving behavior.
- The assumption is that if new residents live close to their child’s school, they will not have to drive so much.
There are many Henry County schools planned to have activity centers, encouraging “new development” around them.
What do you mean by “new development?”
“New development” in the context of school nodes means mostly areas for new residents, but also areas with non-residential uses. The “civic use” to which the activity center law refers means primarily the school complex itself in the context of school nodes.
Is the decision to master plan Dutchtown a done deal?
No, and that is the reason Henry County is sponsoring a meeting on May 25, 2010, at Dutchtown High School from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.
Henry County intends to master plan each activity center over time. However, a group of property owners within the Dutchtown School Node Activity Center have requested that the County begin the master planning process at this time.
- To get started, the County has to know if activity center master planning is something that the owners of property within the Dutchtown School Node Activity Center want.
- In the days following the May 25 meeting, owners will have the opportunity to vote to begin the master planning process or not.
- If 51% of the owners representing 51% of the acreage fail to vote to begin the master planning process, the local government will have to decide if the master planning will begin.
What can I do?
- Use the provided information to familiarize yourself with the process.
- Come to the meeting on May 25.
- Cast your vote to begin the master planning process or to remove the Dutchtown School Node Activity Center from Henry County’s plan.
How to Vote:
- Vote on-line with the unique code and parcel ID# on your postcard(s).
- Fax your vote with the unique code and parcel ID# to (770) 288-7550.
- Mail your vote with the unique code and parcel ID# to Planning & Zoning 140 Henry Parkway McDonough, GA 30253.
Voting begins May 25. Voting ends at 5:00 pm June 25, 2010.
- A unique code and parcel ID# has been mailed to each property owner. A separate unique code and parcel ID# has been issued for each parcel of land. There will be one vote per parcel.
- You must enter your unique code and parcel ID# to vote.
- Results will be posted to this webpage.
If the Dutchtown School Node Activity Center master planning process begins, this webpage will be updated with current information regarding where we will be in the process and what new data is available.
What happens if 51% of the people vote yes?
If both 51% of the property owners and 51% of the land area owners vote yes, then the Master Planning Process begins as outlined in the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC), Section 9.01.04(d) (add hyperlink here). This process would give citizens located within the boundaries of the Activity Center an opportunity to define how they would like their community to develop, what they would like it to look like, and what special features, including open space, parks and/or other civic uses, if any, they would like to see come to their area. Rather than allowing property to be rezoned and developed parcel by parcel as it always has been, and having little specific input on what goes where, or how structures will look, as would traditionally be the case, a Master Planning Process is a unique opportunity that will assure that the citizens and property owners are given adequate opportunity to understand the current land uses within the Activity Center and comment on the direction of the plan, as well as influence the outcome.
What happens if 51% of the people vote no?
Currently the ULDC states that in the event 51% or more of property owners or 51% of the land area owners within the entire Activity Center Boundaries are opposed to the initiation of the Master Planning Process, through a Public Hearing the Zoning Advisory Board (ZAB) will determine if the Activity Center Planning Process will proceed.
Why should we vote?
You should vote so that you have an opportunity to voice whether the current land use designations or proposed land use categories are more appropriate.
If you are sending it to the Zoning Advisory Board anyway, why should I vote?
If 51% of property owners and land area owners vote yes, then it won’t have to go to the Zoning Advisory Board. Because, the Future Land Use Map was approved and Activity Centers were designated on the Future Land Use Map, if 51% of the vote isn’t reached, either in support or opposition, then staff will forward the Master Planning Process decision to the Zoning Advisory Board to determine if the Master Planning should proceed or whether an amendment should be made to the Future Land Use Map to remove the Activity Center Designation.
Should a Master Plan be developed, will the property ultimately be developed based on the Conceptual Site Plan developed during the process?
The illustrative concept plan developed during the Master Plan process will serve as a guide to identify the key elements of the plan and the proposed layout. Modifications and adjustments may be made once the development process begins, however, the goal will be to maintain the integrity of the plan.
Why does the County want more development when we have so many vacant properties already?
The County is merely trying to plan for the number of people expected to be living in Henry County by 2030. The County is seeking to provide sound guidelines and standards for future land use decisions.
If we vote no, will the Activity Center designation be removed?
No, right now we cannot arbitrarily modify a land use designation. The underlying Future Land Use designation of Low-Density Residential doesn’t go away until a rezoning request is approved and/or a Master Plan is adopted. Should someone submit a commercial rezoning request, staff would evaluate the request based not only on the Future Land Use Map designation, but also on the character of the area and the land use percentages currently depicted within each activity center.
Similarly, if we vote no, does that mean there will be no development in the area, and the area will remain low density residential-agricultural?
No. It simply means that you will have no input on what is developed or how each developed parcel will look.
What if I don’t agree with the current Activity Center Planning process to amend the ULDC?
You may submit a “ULDC Text Amendment” application to the Planning and Zoning Department. The P&Z department will forward the text amendment request to the Zoning Advisory Board for a recommendation and the Board of Commissioners for a final decision to approve or deny the proposed text amendment.
Who do I contact with questions or comments?
The Dutchtown School Node Activity Center contact planner is:
Stacey Jordan, AICP
The main number for the Henry County Planning & Zoning Department is (770) 288-7526.
We look forward to seeing all of our Dutchtown School Node Activity Center property owners at the meeting on May 25, 2010!