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Commissioners talk possible family land gift exemption
BOC 2022
The Dawson County Board of Commissioners met for their regular bi-weekly work and voting sessions on March 3, 2022.

With generations of families wanting to stay in Dawson County, it’s no surprise that the Board of Commissioners took up a proposal about family gifts of land during the March 3 work session. 

Rather than a formal variance process, this provision, if ultimately approved, would allow the county manager or another designee, like Planning and Development, to approve a family density exception. 

According to agenda packet documents, that exception could allow for the creation of no more than five lots, including the parent tract, for intra-family ownership transfer. Therefore, minimum lot dimensions of five acres would not be required. 

BOC Chairman Billy Thurmond mentioned that multiple people have contacted him about this sort of idea. He discussed proposed language that property must be deeded with no money changing hands and with “love and affection” between family members. 

“It offers a family who wants their child to stay in this county the opportunity to stay here…so I think it has some value,” Thurmond said.

He added that he received the land he lives on based on “love and affection” from his aunt and uncle. 

District 4 Commissioner Emory Dooley hoped such an exemption could open up tracts without opening up changes to everybody. 

He also mentioned multiple families who’ve contacted him with the situation that they have several acres and want to give each child a couple acres on which to build a house. 

His own house sits on a little over two acres, he said, and that land was given to him by his grandfather. He gave the example that if at least five acres of land was given to another relative now, it wouldn’t be fair to others who received property at earlier times. 

Dooley mentioned that though he understood the current five-acres requirement, because of it, there have recently been issues of spot zoning with higher density in the middle of residential-agricultural (R-A) properties. 

“But I don’t like putting a burden on families who’ve been here for years that just want to expand what they’ve got,” Dooley said. “To me, this would help protect R-A zoning

Dooley, District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett and District 2 Commissioner Gaines all in different ways pointed out that protecting R-A zoning would have to be balanced with people’s right to sell. 

Gaines added that R-A zoning close to Ga. 400 may look denser than zoning in the county’s northern areas. 

Since this exemption has just been proposed, it will need to go through the standard public hearing process, and proposed language may be changed to reflect the county’s exact intentions with the measure.