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City, county to hold public comment meetings for comprehensive plan updates

The city of Dawsonville is holding a public hearing on Thursday concerning updates to its 2018 comprehensive plan.

The plan must be updated every 10 years and the updates are being facilitated by the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission.

According to a public notice posted by the city, the hearing is intended to inform the public about the purpose of the plan and the planning process, to discuss the plan development schedule and provide an explanation of the public participation process to be followed by the city during the preparation of the plan.

Citizens will have an opportunity to speak about local needs and issues at the meetings, held at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. on May 17.

The meetings will be held in the city council chambers on the second floor of Dawsonville City Hall.

According to Joe Rothwell, regional planner with the GMRC who has been guiding the city in the process of updating the comprehensive plan, citizens who were appointed to a study committee have been meeting monthly since January to update the document from 2008.

Rothwell said the update will include the vision statement and an evaluation of Dawsonville’s needs and opportunities, with focus on population, economic development, housing, natural resources, cultural resources, community facilities and services, transportation, intergovernmental coordination and land use.

“It also includes an examination of any areas of the city that require special attention, such as future road construction through (the Georgia Department of Transportation) that could have an impact, neighborhoods that require improvement or areas of the city that could benefit from future development and enhancement,” Rothwell said.

The city has been collecting input from citizens through an online survey, but will also have printed surveys available for meeting attendees. Rothwell said the city has received more than 100 responses so far.

Thursday’s meetings are the only scheduled public comment hearings at this time, though citizens are welcome to attend the monthly meetings and observe the work being done.

Rothwell said the document will be submitted to the Department of Community Affairs in July for review. The DCA requires and approves the comprehensive plan so that the city can maintain its Qualified Local Government Status and be eligible for grants and other economic development incentives.

The county is also hosting a public comment hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, May 21 for citizen input on its comprehensive plan update, which must be completed every five years.

The meeting will be held in the second floor assembly room of the Dawson County Government Center.

Adam Hazell, planning director for the GMRC, has been spearheading the county’s efforts to update the plan, with public meetings held each month since March.

The county’s comprehensive plan must be updated to maintain the county’s Certified Local Government Status, and must be submitted to the DCA by August.

The county also posted a survey on its website and has collected over 500 responses so far.

The more responses there are, the better the comprehensive plan will represent a consensus from the community, according to Hazell. The plan in turn will help elected officials prioritize capital projects and get the most out of taxpayer money.