Rural Georgia: To Be or Not to Be Zoned
Riall, B. William
Nelson, Arthur C.
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A variety of public policies in Georgia can influence a community’s economic development potential. Zoning is one of these policies. In 1983, the Georgia State Constitution gave individual counties home rule power to conduct zoning and planning activities. The Georgia Planning Act of 1989 mandated that all communities in Georgia adopt a comprehensive plan, but did not require adoption of a zoning ordinance to enforce, or implement, the plan. As of 2001, 63 counties in Georgia, all rural, have not adopted a zoning ordinance. Community leaders of non-zoned counties often find it challenging to convince their citizens of real benefits to zoning. Opponents of zoning often consider such regulation an unnecessary governmental intrusion on their property rights. Zoning advocates often cite quality-of-life advantages, such as protecting homeowners from unwanted uses next door, but such advantages vary in the eye of the beholder and sometimes do not provide enough incentive to sway the opposition. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate whether there are economic development benefits related to zoning. Given that an unlimited number of factors affect a community’s economic development potential, it is not possible to state with certainty that just one factor is responsible for a community’s economic development progress. In other words, one factor, such as a specific public policy, cannot be the sole explanation for a community’s development. However, economic development patterns may be observed when comparing communities with one of these factors to communities without. This investigation sought to compare counties with a zoning policy to counties without one.