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Hobby farms. Tiny homes. Outdoor wedding venues.

A subcommittee of the Rome-Floyd Planning Commission held its first meeting to discuss zoning changes needed to accommodate new ways people want to use their property.

“That meeting was enough to let us know it’s going to take quite a few meetings,” said Anthony McClain, who chairs the planning commission and the subcommittee.

Artisan workshops and hotels that turn into extended-living quarters are among the other activities that are going before city and county commissioners with no clear guidelines.

“It’s not that they’re an issue. They’re just not in our (Unified Land Development Code),” County Commission Chair Scotty Hancock said during last week’s meeting of the Joint Services Committee.

“Things have changed in the last 20 years,” he added.

Assistant City Manager Patrick Eidson told elected officials that he and Planning Director Artagus Newell are on the subcommittee with planning commission members McClain, Logan Boss, Ivy Lowery and Frank Brown. City Engineer Aaron Carroll and other staffers are available to answer technical questions.

Communities “have to get creative” to allow property owners the flexibility to try new things while still protecting the surrounding landowners, City Manager Sammy Rich said. It’s past time to review the ULDC, he said, and County Manager Jamie McCord agreed.

“We don’t have any VHS stores, but we’ve addressed them in three places,” McCord noted.

During an update to the planning commission last week, Boss said they looked at special-use permits. City commissioners have indicated SUPs might be appropriate for all hotels to give them, and neighbors, a chance to vet them.

“We talked about them not just for hotels, but across the board,” Boss said. “My concern has always been that SUPs run with the land – but circumstances change.”

Applicants who wanted a SUP to assemble custom shields and coats of arms on a tract off Fosters Mill Road ran afoul of that law last month. County Commissioners said their operation wouldn’t be intrusive, but they rejected the request because it would allow other kinds of factories in the future.

City and County attorneys are in talks with the state attorney general about legal options to issue temporary SUPs for specific land-uses.

McClain said they also discussed the possible need for business licenses in the unincorporated area. Businesses in the city of Rome must get annual licenses but the county only requires permits for alcohol sales, pawn shops and gas stations.

Without licensing, McClain said, it’s difficult to know if there’s an activity on a property that conflicts with the ULDC and the long-range Comprehensive Plan.

The subcommittee is expected to meet again mid-month and Newell may have some draft ordinances from the discussions to present at the planning commission’s next session on Nov. 7.

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