The Planning Commission was developed to serve in the following capacities:
- Review and advise the County Commission on public and private activities involving the physical, social, and economic development of the county
- Assist in the implementation of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
- Draft and/or review text of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution, and the associated Subdivision Regulations, and recommend whether or not to adopt.
- Review proposed Subdivisions, Variances, Zoning Map Amendments and Conditional Uses for consistency with County ordinances, and recommend whether or not to allow.
- Approve or deny final Subdivision Plats.
- Affords residents the opportunity to actively participate in the planning of the County and its welfare; to learn all facets of the regulations governing such functions; interact with a wide variety of citizens participating in shaping the County’s future; and assume an active role in regulation changes involving zoning and subdivision activity.
- The Habersham County Planning Commission has existed at least since 1974, the earliest date for which records could be found.
- The Planning Commissioners are appointed by and report to the Habersham County Board of Commissioners.
Planning Commission Duties (illustrative only – not all inclusive):
- Interprets and applies regulations of Habersham County during review of applications for subdivisions, variances, map amendments and conditional uses
- Advises the County Commission on annexations, zoning related issues, site plan reviews, and subdivision development
- Recommends approval of changes to the County’s Comprehensive Plan
- Reviews all proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and periodically conducts special studies to keep the plan current or assigns related studies to county staff or to consultants.
- Initiates amendments to the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution
- Holds Public Hearings on proposed amendments to the Ordinance
- Forwards amendments to the County Commission within 30 days
- Initiates and adopts amendments to bylaws
- Planning Commission is the deciding body for approval of subdivision final plats
- Attends conferences and/or training sessions to keep abreast of current trends in rural planning and/or to better understand the role of a Planning Commissioner
- Conducts field trips to view areas of the County that are proposed for a change in planned use or for annexation, to better understand the relationship of the proposed development or annexation to surrounding land uses.
- Attends other meetings such as the County Commission’s, or other boards or committees, as deemed necessary.
Duties - Chairperson and Vice Chairperson:
- Open sessions at the time at which the Commission is to meet, by taking roll and calling the members to order.
- Announce business before the assembly in the order in which it is to be acted upon.
- Restrain members when engaged in debate, within the rules of order. He or she shall enforce on all occasions the observance of order among the members.
- Decide all questions of order.
- Authenticate, by his or her signature, when necessary, all the acts, orders and proceedings of the Commission.
- Initiate and shall rule on any questions in regard to Section 12, “Conflict of Interest”, and any said ruling will be final.
- The Chairperson is authorized to establish committees for the purpose of understanding issues related to the Commissions’ business.
The Vice Chairperson shall exercise the duties of the Chairperson in the absence, disability, or disqualification of the Chairperson. The Vice Chairperson will perform other duties, as needed, to assist the Chairperson with the above duties. In the absence of the Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson, the Executive Secretary shall exercise said duties.
- Once per month on the 3rd Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. or as frequently as required by applicable land use regulations.
- Meetings usually last an average of 2 hours.
- The location of the meeting is in the Courthouse unless otherwise published.
- Establishment of Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Executive Secretary are made at the first regular scheduled meeting in January.
- Members must have resided in Habersham County for at least one year.
- Must be registered Habersham County Voters.
Skills and Abilities:
There are no minimum skills and abilities that an applicant must have to be appointed as a Planning Commissioner. However, the following list has been identified as those skills and abilities that make a quality Planning Commissioner:
- Attention to detail
- Ability to think in abstract terms
- Open mindedness
- Willingness to listen and learn
- Willingness (obligation) to contribute (speak in a public forum)
- Ability to compromise and work within a team framework
- Ability to make decisions based on the best interests of the community, rather than the sole interest of the applicant, or other special-interest groups
- A rudimentary understanding of the development process
- Ability to read drawings, blueprints, plats, maps and architectural plans, and to visualize what those documents communicate.
- Planning Commissioners are expected to attend one day of training each year of their term.
- Members should engage in, subject to financial support by Habersham County, Planning Commission and related training programs such as those provided by the University of Georgia Institute of Government, Georgia Center for Continuing Education, Georgia Municipal Association, Georgia Tech Planning Commissioners Workshop, Georgia Planning Association, Georgia Association of Zoning Administrators, and the Georgia mountains Regional Development Center.
- No member of the Planning Commission may also serve as a member of the County Commission
- No member of the Planning Commission may also be an employee of or hold an elected office for the County or one of its Cities.
- The Planning Commission will recommend to the Habersham County Commission the removal for cause of any member who is absent from three (3) consecutive meetings in a row, without a valid excuse or from fifty percent (50%) of the regularly scheduled and special called meetings within a twelve (12) month period.
- Members are paid $50 per meeting attended.
- Costs for training and related travel and expenses incurred as part of an approved event by Habersham County will be reimbursed by the County.
- 3 years
- Can serve no more than three terms of three years.
- Terms are staggered so that the terms of no more than three members of the Planning Commission expire in any year.
- An average of five hours per month reviewing agenda items and visiting properties submitted in the Planning Commission packets.
Recommended changes in appointments the Chairperson feels would be the most beneficial for current and future members:
- Appointments should be geographically distributed throughout the County for better representation of all of Habersham County Citizens
- Present Planning Commissioners are from Districts 1 and 5, all residing north of Clarkesville
- Change the term of office to 4 years, limit of two terms
- No matter how the present 3 year terms are staggered three people need to be appointed during one of the three years, resulting in an abrupt change in the membership.
- If any Planning Commissioner is unable to serve out their term, 4 Commissioners out of 7 may be appointed in the same year and at the same time. New Commissioners need time, typically 3-6 months, to accumulate the background information to be fully effective
- Serving and additional year makes better use of the Planning Commissioner’s time
- A 4 year term matches the term of the Board of Commissioners, meaning that each Board Commissioner will nominate only one Planning commissioner during their term, not two as now occurs on occasion.
- Change the staggering of terms from the current
- The current 3 year staggered terms require replacement of three Planning Commissioners in two of the three years, with only one replaced in the third year.