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County opposes state land use bills
Dawson County courthouse

Just like their counterparts to the direct south, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners recently approved a resolution opposing two state bills that would functionally prevent local governments from regulating build-to-rent communities.

Dawson County unanimously passed a resolution opposing HB 1093 and SB 494 during their March 3 voting session. HB 1093 would disallow municipalities from “enacting or enforcing any restrictions on residential rental agreements of over 30 days,” while SB 494 would prevent city councils from prohibiting fully-rental complexes. 

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners passed a similar resolution at their work session on Tuesday, Feb. 22, as reported in an earlier Forsyth County News article.

Law firm Jarrard & Davis represents both the Dawson and Forsyth County governments, as well as numerous other localities in northeastern Georgia. 

County Attorney Jeff Strickland described the bills as pieces of legislation that, at the state level, would force the counties to adhere and allow certain types of development without having the opportunity to exercise zoning and land-use decision processes. 

“If I understand this correctly, it’s just pretty well taking away local control and giving it to developers?”, said District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett. 

“In the space of build-to-rent, that [kind of legislation] is becoming more popular,” District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines added. “I think a lot of our stipulations locally that we put in place on developments prohibit a percentage of rentals in order to protect the homeowners.” 

Gaines alluded to a Dawson County subdivision in the near past that evolved into a fully-rental one with negative outcomes as a result. 

Furthermore, the bills, if passed, would make governments found in violation of the rules subject to pay monetary damages and lose out on financial assistance or funds from the state’s Department of Community Affairs. 

This proposed legislation comes in light of rapid growth over the past decade in North Georgia above Atlanta. A previous DCN article reported that Dawson County is the third-fastest growing county in Georgia, with adjacent Forsyth, Cherokee and Hall counties ranking first, second and fourth respectively. 

Just like many other areas of the country, rents and property prices have also risen across northern Georgia in recent years and in part contributed to people experiencing homelessness.

Ultimately, a decision about the two bills is in the hands of Georgia’s General Assembly.