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“Unintended victims” : Dawson County Board of Commissioners seek to remedy flaws in residential moratorium
Moratorium update
BOC Chairman Billy Thurmond, left, and District 4 Commissioner Emory Dooley, right, listen as District 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield laments the extra pressure Dawson County’s current residential moratorium has had on aspiring single-family homeowners. - photo by Julia Hansen

Before the Board of Commissioners extended the ongoing moratorium on residential rezoning applications to Nov. 18, Chairman Billy Thurmond recognized some of the unintended targets of the measure–aspiring single-family homeowners. 

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“I don't think that was the intention of the board when we did this. Those are not the people that are eating up our service delivery,” Thurmond said, later adding that it’s affecting them the same way as “people building 100 homes.” 

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett called those single applicants, multiple of whom have also contacted her, “unintended victims.”

“They’re dealing with interest rates, too, killing them,” said District 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield. “They can’t lock in because we can’t tell them anything.”

The board voted 3-1 in favor of the extension, with Satterfield opposing it. 

The county’s pause on acceptance of new residential rezoning applications was set to expire on Nov. 2. However, county attorney Angela Davis requested a procedural extension through Nov. 18 since the measure was set to expire before the board’s Nov. 3 meeting, and it could only be extended so far without a public hearing. 

This extension would encompass the BOC’s Nov. 17 meeting, at which time there will be a public hearing “if we’re not prepared to go forward at that time,” Davis said. 

“We expect that we probably won’t, because once you see all the revision to the [land use] ordinance and you see the impact fee program, then we have to go through their own set of procedures to adopt those items,” Davis added. 

This vote about the moratorium follows the BOC’s Aug. 4 decision to extend the measure for three months and their initial July 7 vote to implement a month-long emergency moratorium on new residential rezoning applications. 

Board members voted unanimously for the August extension in part to allow for a majority of work to be completed for Dawson County’s updated impact fee study.

The county’s impact fees were last updated in 2018. Also in August, the board voted to retain a consultant to conduct the study, with Planning and Development Director Sharon Farrell predicting November would be about when “the true bulk of the work” would be delivered. 

District 4 Commissioner and BOC Vice-Chairman Emory Dooley suggested that zonings like Residential-Agricultural and Residential Sub Rural be excluded from the moratorium, given that the measure’s purpose was to pause zonings for denser development. 

“I think that’d be a positive step if we narrow it, now that we’ve done some of our basic review,” Davis added. “We know we don’t need to impact the ordinance as to those properties, so we’ll narrow it.”

Fausett asked if single-family applicants would be caught up in the moratorium until Nov. 18. 

“Until then, they would be. But after that, they would not be, and they can do what they needed to do to file,” Thurmond said.