Floyd County Commissioners are expecting to get an early look, likely in August, at proposed ordinances to regulate special events venues and hobby farms.
The board asked Rome-Floyd Planning Director Artagus Newell to come up with some draft proposals in the wake of several zoning applications that indicate rising interest in the land uses.
“We need to put in some parameters,” Newell told members of the planning commission last month. “We want a good consistent message we can give to citizens when they contact us.”
The city of Rome has already adopted language governing venues for weddings, reunions and other special events. The county has typically allowed them on a case-by-case basis.
Commissioner Larry Maxey, the board’s representative to the planning commission, said basic considerations should be codified — including the type of events, hours of operation, proximity to neighboring homes and emergency vehicle access.
Newell said he’s looking at what other rural counties do regarding both wedding venues and hobby farms. A hobby farm is a broad term for residential tracts where the homeowners keep a few horses, goats, chickens or other nontraditional pets.
“We’ve had a lot of requests ... Some people have two acres, some have 35 acres. We need some rules,” Maxey said during the planning commission’s June 24 special called meeting.
Newell said he’s also had discussions with Chief Building Official Howard Gibson, the Floyd County Cooperative Extension Office and PAWS, the public animal welfare services agency.
“We’re trying to distinguish between a true hobby farm and a money-making operation,” he said.
Changes to the Unified Land Development Code typically originate with the planning staff and pass through the planning commission before going to the elected boards. In this case, however, Newell said he first wants feedback from the officials who asked for the ordinances.
Also, the planning staff is moving forward with a proposal requested by planning commission member Tom Bennett to expand the department’s authority to grant administrative variances.
Bennett, a former county commissioner, said too many development projects are held up unnecessarily, waiting for clearance from the Board of Adjustments.
“This would be for variances that are minor, not impactful,” Newell has said. “Things we might be able to approve that keep the spirit and intent of the code without usurping the BOA’s powers.”