The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners will be busy during its pair of October meetings, as four public hearings have been scheduled to be placed on the agenda.
The first of these public hearings will be held at Tuesday night’s meeting and will deal with a new county law on the installation of small cell service antennas in the right-of-way throughout the county. Recently, the Georgia General Assembly approved a measure regarding placing small cell network devices on public rights-of-way throughout the state, covering many of the aspects involved in doing so. However, Opie Bowen, who serves as an attorney for the county, explained the law the county is looking to approve will be better tailored for the area while not conflicting with what the state has already put in place.
“The ordinance the county will be considering effectively mimics the requirements imposed by state law,” Bowen said. “However, since the state law is rather broad, we have provided additional guidelines in the proposed ordinance to allow the county greater communication and input with the telecommunications providers on such installations.”
One of the examples Bowen listed as being more Cherokee County-specific included adding a provision requiring telecommunications providers to meet with local officials before sending in applications, in order to discuss anticipated plans and locations for these devices.
“This allows county staff the opportunity to discuss and possibly identify locations that could be a better fit for the community, as well as adequate for the coverage the telecommunications service provider is seeking,” Bowen said.
Other examples included allowing the county to charge the maximum rates allowed by the state and any fee increases automatically taking effect without additional action having to be taken, as well as giving the county more input when encouraging communications companies to co-locate on county poles and effectively conforming with any design standards already in place at various locations throughout the county.
At the Oct. 15 meeting, the commissioners will be taking on three public hearings, all of which are related to portions of the county’s zoning ordinance.
One of the three hearings scheduled for Oct. 15 involves a series of proposed amendments to the conservation design community plan, which were approved by the Cherokee County Planning Commission in September and forwarded on to the board of commissioners shortly thereafter. These amendments included removing one of the denser categories of residential zoning (R-15) from inclusion as a conservation design community, requiring all potential conservation design community proposals to go through the county planning commission and officially establishing the total size a conservation design community must meet, all of which are designed to improve and ensure the quality of all developments being constructed as a conservation design community, according to Watkins.
In addition to amendments for the county’s conservation design community plan, the board of commissioners will take public input on modifications to an article in the zoning law on uses and regulations, such as additional restrictions on where a sawmill can operate.
The final public hearing scheduled for the Oct. 15 meeting concerns the Ga. Highway 92 Overlay portion of the county’s zoning law. Watkins said the amendments being considered through this public meeting came out of some of the public hearings the county held earlier this year on the Southwest Cherokee area plan. Under the proposed changes to this part of the ordinance, the county would remove a list of permitted uses developers could work under when constructing new facilities within 1,000 feet of Highway 92, instead requiring developers to obtain the proper zoning district before proceeding with any new construction.