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Subject 110-3-2 MINIMUM PLANNING STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES FOR LOCAL COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING

Rule 110-3-2-.01 Purpose

(1) General: The rules and regulations provided herein are for the implementation of O.C.G.A. 50-8-1et seq. and are intended to provide a framework to facilitate and encourage coordinated, comprehensive planning and development at the local, regional and state government levels.
(2) Applicability: The rules and regulations provided herein are applicable to all comprehensive plans prepared hereunder, including the minimum standards and procedures that are adopted or promulgated from time to time by the department pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.
(a) The rules shall also apply to all other facets of the comprehensive planning process as outlined in the planning act, such as provisions relating to conflict resolution and to the determination of qualified local governments.
(b) The minimum standards and procedures authorized pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(b), 50-8-7.2 and 12-2-8 relating to local government comprehensive planning shall become effective on October 1, 1992, at which time the rules that were adopted for this purpose by the Board of Community Affairs and ratified by the Georgia General Assembly at its 1990 session shall stand repealed. Local government compliance with the standards and procedures shall be in accordance with the rules outlined at 110-3-2-.04 and 110-3-2-.06, but in no event shall the scheduled date for local government compliance be earlier than September 30, 1991.
(3) Legislative Intent: The Legislature has provided that coordinated and comprehensive planning by state government, local governments and regional development centers within the State of Georgia is of vital importance to the state and its residents. The state has an essential public interest in promoting, developing, sustaining, and assisting coordinated and comprehensive planning by all levels of government.
(4) Interpretation: The rules and regulations promulgated hereunder are intended to provide for the coordination of planning between the local, regional, and state levels within the State of Georgia. Such rules and regulations should be liberally construed to achieve that end.

Rule 110-3-2-.02 Definitions

(1) General: For the purpose of these rules, the following words shall have the meaning as contained herein unless the context does not permit such meaning. Terms not defined in these rules but defined in O.C.G.A. 50-8-1et seq., shall have the meaning as contained therein. Terms not defined in these rules, nor in O.C.G.A. 50-8-1et seq., shall have ascribed to them the ordinary accepted meanings such as the context may imply.
(2) Definitions: The following terms and definitions shall be used to guide the implementation of the comprehensive planning process.
(a) 'Additional Planning Elements' means any additional planning elements adopted by the board of directors of the regional development center and approved by the department in accordance with O.C.G.A. 50-8-35 and guidelines developed by the department.
(b) 'Board' means the Board of Community Affairs.
(c) 'Board of Directors' means the Board of directors of a regional development center.
(d) 'Commissioner' means the Commissioner of Community Affairs.
(e) 'Comprehensive Plan' means any plan by a county or municipality covering such county or municipality or any plan by a regional development center covering the center's region proposed or prepared pursuant to the minimum standards and procedures for preparation of comprehensive plans and for implementation of comprehensive plans, established by the department in accordance with O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(b) and 50-8-7.2.
(f) 'Conflict' means any conflict, dispute, or inconsistency arising:
1. Between or among comprehensive plans for any counties or municipalities, as proposed, prepared, proposed to be implemented, or implemented.
2. Between or among comprehensive plans for any regions, as proposed, prepared, proposed to be implemented, or implemented.
3. Between or among comprehensive plans for any counties or municipalities and comprehensive plans for the region which includes such counties or municipalities, as such plans are proposed, prepared, proposed to be implemented, or implemented.
4. With respect to or in connection with any action proposed to be taken or taken by any county, municipality, or other local government relating to or affecting regionally important resources, as defined by the department.
5. With respect to or in connection with any action proposed to be taken by any county, municipality, or other local government relating to or affecting developments of regional impact, as defined by the department.
(g) 'Conflict Resolution' means mediation or the process to be employed by the Department of Community Affairs in resolving differences arising from any conflict, as defined at (f), above.
(h) 'Coordinated and Comprehensive Planning' means planning by counties and municipalities and regional development centers in accordance with the minimum standards and procedures.
(i) 'Council' means the Governor's Development Council.
(j) 'County' means any county of this state.
(k) 'Days' means calendar days, unless otherwise specified.
(l) 'Department' means the Department of Community Affairs.
(m) 'Developments of Regional Impact' means any project that requires local government action to proceed and that exceeds the minimum thresholds established by the Department. Such procedures and guidelines to govern developments of regional impact shall be promulgated by the department pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(b)(3).
(n) 'Executive Committee' means the executive committee of a regional development center.
(o) 'Governing Body' means the board of commissioners of a county, sole commissioner of a county, council, commissioners, or other governing authority of a county or municipality.
(p) 'Implementation Strategy' means the narrative description counties and municipalities must submit describing how they intend to implement their comprehensive plan, including a listing of public actions to be undertaken by the community toward implementation of the comprehensive plan and the related costs of such actions.
(q) 'Local Government' means any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state.
(r) 'Local Government Affairs' means all matters involving or affecting local governments including, but not limited to, coordinated and comprehensive planning in which the state is or may become empowered or authorized to perform any duties, responsibilities, or functions or to exercise any power or authority.
(s) 'Local Government Services' means the activities performed or authorized to be performed by the department including, but not limited to, its performance of duties, responsibilities, and functions in local government affairs and its exercise of power and authority in local government affairs.
(t) 'Local Plan' means the comprehensive plan for any county or municipality.
(u) 'Mediation' means the process to be employed by the department and regional development centers for resolving conflicts which may arise from time to time in the coordinated and comprehensive planning process. Such procedures and guidelines to govern mediation shall be promulgated by the department pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(d).
(v) 'Minimum Standards and Procedures' means the minimum standards and procedures, including the minimum elements which shall be addressed and included for preparation of local comprehensive plans, for implementation of local comprehensive plans, and for participation in the coordinated and comprehensive planning process. Minimum standards and procedures may include any elements, standards, and procedures for such purposes prescribed by a regional development center for counties and municipalities within its region and approved in advance by the department, in accordance with O.C.G.A. 50-8-35 and the rules and guidelines developed by the department.
(w) 'Municipality' means any municipal corporation of the state and any consolidated city-county government of the state.
(x) 'Planning Act' means Georgia Laws 1989 pp. 1317-1391 (O.C.G.A. Sec. 45-12-200et seq.; 50-8-1 et seq.; 12-2-1 et seq.; and 36-70-12 et seq.).
(y) 'Plan Amendment' means a significant action by a local government to change its currently approved comprehensive plan. Amendments shall be deemed necessary when the local government feels conditions have changed dramatically so as to alter the basic tenets of its approved comprehensive plan.
(z) 'Plan Approval' means the certification conferred by the department acknowledging that a local government has prepared, submitted to the regional development center for review, and adopted a comprehensive plan that meets the minimum standards and procedures.
(aa) 'Planning' means the process of determining actions which state agencies, regional development centers, and local governments propose to take.
(bb) 'Planning Elements' means the minimum elements of a comprehensive plan that must be addressed by a local government in the preparation of such plan. The minimum elements shall initially include population, economic development, natural and historic resources, community facilities, housing, and land use.
(cc) 'Plan Update' means the complete rewrite of the local government comprehensive plan. This update is to be accomplished not later than ten years from the date of approval of the most recent comprehensive plan and must meet the minimum standards and procedures.
(dd) 'Qualified Local Government' means a county or municipality that:
1. Adopts and maintains a comprehensive plan in conformity with the minimum standards and procedures;
2. Establishes regulations consistent with its comprehensive plan and with the minimum standards and procedures; and
3. Does not fail to participate in the department's mediation or other means of resolving conflicts in a manner in which, in the judgment of the department, reflects a good faith effort to resolve any conflict.
(ee) 'Region' means the territorial area within the boundaries of operation for any regional development center, as such boundaries shall be established from time to time by the board in accordance with O.C.G.A. 50-8-4(f).
(ff) 'Regional Development Center' means a regional development center established under O.C.G.A. 50-8-32.
(gg) 'Regional Plan' means the comprehensive plan for a region prepared in accordance with the standards and procedures established by the department.
(hh) 'Regionally Important Resources' means a natural or historic resource that has boundaries extending beyond a single local government's jurisdiction or has value to a broader public constituency and which is vulnerable to the actions and activities of man. Such procedures and guidelines to govern regionally important resources shall be promulgated by the department pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(b)(3).
(ii) 'Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria' means those standards and procedures with respect to natural resources, the environment, and vital areas of the state established and administered by the Department of Natural Resources pursuant to O.C.G.A. 12-2-8, including, but not limited to, criteria for the protection of water supply watersheds, groundwater recharge areas, wetlands, protected mountains and protected river corridors.
(jj) 'Short Term Work Program' means that portion of the Implementation Strategy that lists the specific actions to be undertaken annually by the local government over the upcoming five years to implement the approved comprehensive plan.
1. A short term work program shall be prepared to summarize the recommendations contained in a local government's comprehensive plan and shall consist of:
(i) Major actions to be undertaken by a municipality or county to implement plan recommendations;
(ii) Time frames for implementing each of the major recommendations; and
(iii) Estimated cost (if any) of implementing individual major recommendations.
2. Such work program shall be submitted, reviewed and updated in accordance with the procedures outlined at 110-3-2-.06(10).
(kk) 'State Agency' means any department, agency, commission, or other institution of the executive branch of the government of the State of Georgia.

Rule 110-3-2-.03 Duties and Responsibilities

(1) General: It has been determined that coordinated and comprehensive planning by all levels of government within the State of Georgia is of vital importance to the state and its residents. To effectively and efficiently implement the provisions of the planning act, ongoing cooperation must occur between local governments, regional development centers, and state agencies. The following outlines the responsibilities of the parties charged with implementing the provisions of the planning act.
(2) Governor's Development Council: The Governor's Development Council was created by the planning act to provide for the coordination of planning, at the direction of the Governor, by departments, agencies, commissions, and other institutions of the state. The council, at the direction of the Governor, shall:
(a) Coordinate, supervise, and review planning by state agencies to include, but not be limited to, coordination of long range planning and coordination of the location and construction of public facilities on the basis of state, regional, and local considerations identified in the comprehensive statewide plan developed by the Governor with the assistance of the department.
(b) Establish procedures for, and take action to require, communication and coordination among state agencies in any respect which the council deems necessary or appropriate in order to further the coordination of planning by state agencies.
(3) Department of Community Affairs: It is the responsibility of the department hereunder to develop, promote, sustain and assist local governments in Georgia.
(a) The department shall develop, promote, and establish standards and procedures for coordinated and comprehensive planning.
(b) The department shall assist local governments in participating in an orderly process for coordinated and comprehensive planning.
(c) The department shall assist local governments in preparing and implementing comprehensive plans which will develop and promote the essential public interest of the state and its residents.
(d) The department shall serve as the principal department in the executive branch of state government for local government affairs and shall have the responsibility, among other things, to:
1. Develop, promote, sustain and assist local governments in the performance of their duties and responsibilities under law, including coordinated and comprehensive planning;
2. Provide a liaison between local governments and other governments, including the state and federal governments.
3. Act as the state's principal department for local government affairs and local government services generally and for programs, functions, and studies in local government affairs and services and act as the coordinator on the state level for such programs, functions, and studies provided by the department; and
4. Act as the state's principal department for developing, promoting, maintaining, and encouraging coordinated and comprehensive planning.
(e) The department shall coordinate and participate in compiling a Georgia data base and network to serve as a comprehensive source of information available, in an accessible form, to local governments and state agencies and shall make available the Georgia data base and network to other state agencies, local governments, members of the General Assembly, and residents of the state.
(f) The department, utilizing the comprehensive plans of qualified local governments, shall assist the Governor in coordinated and comprehensive planning, including the development of a comprehensive plan for the state.
(g) The department, utilizing the comprehensive plans of qualified local governments, and regional development centers, shall assist the Governor in defining the state's long term goals, objectives, and priorities and implementing those through coordinated and comprehensive planning.
(h) The department shall undertake and carry out such activities as may be necessary to mediate, or otherwise assist in resolving conflicts relating to the comprehensive planning process.
(i) The department shall determine, in its judgment, and for each region, what shall constitute developments of regional impact.
(j) The department shall develop planning procedures with respect to regionally important resources, and for planning with respect to developments of regional impact, and for encouraging interjurisdictional cooperation among local governments.
(k) The department may establish rules and/or procedures which require that local governments submit for review any proposed action which, based upon guidelines which the department may establish, affect regionally important resources or further developments of regional impact.
(4) Local Governments: It is the responsibility of local governments in the State of Georgia hereunder to serve the essential public interest of the state by promoting the establishment, implementation, and performance of coordinated and comprehensive planning by municipal and county governments. Accordingly, the governing body of municipalities and counties shall have the authority and responsibility to:
(a) Develop, or cause to be developed, comprehensive plans at the local level. However, no municipality or county shall take any action to adopt a local plan or put into effect any local plan, until 60 days after the date when the municipality or county, as the case may be, submitted the local plan to the regional development center for review, comment and recommendation, except that any request for reconsideration in accordance with the planning act shall automatically operate to extend the 60-day period to 90 days.
(b) Employ personnel, or enter into contracts with the regional development center or other public or private entity, to assist in developing, establishing, and implementing its comprehensive plan.
(c) Contract with one or more counties or municipalities, or both, for assistance in developing, establishing, and implementing a comprehensive plan, regardless of whether the contract is to obtain such assistance or to provide such assistance.
(d) Develop, establish, and implement land use regulations that are consistent with the comprehensive plan of the municipality or county government, as the case may be.
(e) Develop, establish, and implement a plan for capital improvements that conforms to the minimum standards and procedures and make any capital improvements plan a part of the local comprehensive plan. Local governments wishing to impose development impact fees must adhere to the planning requirements for capital improvements outlined at 110-3-2-.07.
(f) Take all action necessary or desirable to further the policy of the state for coordinated and comprehensive planning.
(g) Be members of the regional development center for the region which includes the municipality or county, as the case may be.
(h) Pay annual dues for membership in its regional development center, in accordance with the planning act.
(i) Participate in compiling a Georgia data base and network to serve as a comprehensive source of information for the coordinated and comprehensive planning process.
(j) Participate in good faith in mediation or other forms of resolving conflicts, including those relating to comprehensive plans, regionally important resources, or developments of regional impact, as set forth in the planning act and these standards and procedures.
(5) Regional Development Centers: It is the responsibility of regional development centers hereunder to serve the essential public interest of the state by promoting the establishment, implementation, and performance of coordinated and comprehensive planning by municipal and county governments and the regional development center, in conformity with the minimum standards and procedures established pursuant to the planning act. The specific responsibilities of regional development centers are:
(a) To contract with one or more counties or municipalities, or both, for assistance in developing, establishing, and implementing a comprehensive plan.
(b) To undertake and carry out such planning and technical assistance activities as its board of directors or the department may deem necessary for the development, preparation, and implementation of comprehensive planning for each center's region and for municipalities and counties within the center's region and for such planning and technical assistance activities as its board of directors or the department may deem necessary for coordinated and comprehensive planning within the center's region.
(c) Specific planning and technical assistance activities may include, but shall not be limited to, the following:
1. A center may coordinate and assist local governments in preparing local plans for submission to the center.
2. A center may provide technical planning assistance to local governments.
3. A center may develop and prepare a local plan for a county or municipality if the county or municipality enters into a contract with a center for that purpose.
4. A center may require that comprehensive plans within its region include elements in addition to those established by the department as minimum standards and procedures, but before imposing any such requirement, the center shall have received the department's approval of additional elements to be included in such comprehensive plans.
5. Each center shall prepare and adopt a regional plan and submit the regional plan to the department. The regional plan shall take into consideration local plans within the region.
6. Each center shall participate in compiling a Georgia data base and network, coordinated by the department, to serve as a comprehensive source of information available, in an accessible form, to local governments, state agencies, and members of the General Assembly.
7. Each center shall review and comment on each local plan submitted to it in accordance with 110-3-2-.06, Minimum Procedural Standards.
8. Any proposed action by a municipal or county government that would, based upon guidelines the department may establish, affect regionally important resources shall be reviewed by the regional development center in accordance with rules and procedures established by the department and shall result in a public finding by the center as to whether the proposed action will be in the best interest of the state.
9. Any proposed action by a municipal or county government that would, based upon guidelines the department may establish, further any development of regional impact, shall be reviewed by the regional development center in accordance with rules and procedures established by the department and shall result in a public finding by the center as to whether the proposed action will be in the best interest of the state.
10. Each center shall coordinate mediation or other forms of resolving conflicts relating to comprehensive plans, regionally important resources, or developments of regional impact among local governments within its region, pursuant to the planning act and procedures developed by the department.
11. Each center shall also participate in good faith in mediation or other forms of resolving conflicts when such conflict involves another regional development center.

Rule 110-3-2-.04 Minimum Local Planning Standards

(1) General: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(b), the minimum local planning standards were developed to guide local governments in developing and implementing their comprehensive plans. The law also provides that the Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria developed pursuant to O.C.G.A. 12-2-8 be incorporated into these minimum planning standards. Cities and counties across the state are diverse in terms of size, growth rate, economic base, and environmental and geographic conditions, and their needs, concerns and goals for the future also differ dramatically. Accordingly, the planning standards were given sufficient flexibility to allow communities to address the variety of situations they face. In some cases, resources or data items listed in the standards may not be applicable to a particular community. For example, assessment of coastal resources would not be necessary in local plans prepared in north Georgia, nor would coastal jurisdictions generally need to consider steep slopes. Therefore, each community should determine which items are appropriate for consideration in its planning process. Similarly, local governments are encouraged to consider additional planning elements or data items in their plans, as needed, to focus on special situations or issues of importance to the community.
(2) Community, Regional, and State Planning Goals: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(a), the department is authorized to assist the Governor in defining the state's long-term goals and priorities through coordinated and comprehensive planning. The department shall utilize local and regional plans in developing and refining these goals and priorities. In the interim, the department has established statewide goals for five topical elements, as listed below. Goals developed in local plans shall be consistent with these initial statewide goals:
(a) Economic Development: To achieve a growing and balanced economy, consistent with the prudent management of the state's resources, that equitably benefits all segments of the population.
(b) Natural and Historic Resources: To conserve and protect the environmental, natural and historic resources of Georgia's communities, regions and the state.
(c) Community Facilities and Services: To ensure that public facilities throughout the state have the capacity, and are in place when needed, to support and attract growth, and development and/or maintain and enhance the quality of life of Georgia's residents.
(d) Housing: To ensure that residents of the state have access to adequate and affordable housing.
(e) Land Use: To ensure that land resources are allocated for uses that will accommodate and enhance the state's economic development, natural and historic resources, community facilities, and housing and to protect and improve the quality of life of Georgia's residents.
(3) Three-Step Planning Process: Local Governments shall follow the three-step planning process outlined herein in developing each of the six topical planning elements described at paragraph 110-3-2-.04(5). This process establishes the scope and sequence of local planning activities and defines what must be considered and accomplished by each local government to assure minimum standards of quality and comprehensiveness in local plans across the state. The plan document must document that the three-step planning process has been followed, but local governments may organize the plan document in whatever manner is most appropriate to present the information, conclusions and intentions of the plan in their clearest and most usable form. Nothing in the description of this process should be interpreted as discouraging local governments from exceeding the minimum planning standards. The three-step planning process is as follows:
(a) Inventory and Assessment: The initial step of the planning process is intended to provide local governments with a factual and conceptual basis for making informed decisions about the future of the community and to ensure that an appropriate range of issues and viewpoints is considered. It must include the following activities:
1. Preparation of an inventory of data for each planning element and development or presentation of projections and/or forecasts where applicable.
2. Analysis of the data for each element, including consideration of the implications of historical trends, current conditions and forecasts for the future. Data items must also be assessed in terms of their significance to the community and their relevance to information analyzed under each of the other plan elements. In addition, this step must include an assessment and identification of community and natural resources, opportunities and problems, and consideration of the manner in which resources should be developed, conserved or protected. The assessment must also involve (as appropriate to each element) an evaluation of existing community programs, facilities, services, regulatory tools and administrative systems to determine whether they are, or will be, sufficient to meet the community's current and future needs. The assessment should encompass input from the public, at least to the extent established in 110-3-2-.06(4), Minimum Procedural Standards, and should involve the development of alternatives for addressing current and future problems and opportunities.
(b) Statement of Needs and Goals: The second step in the planning process is intended to establish the community's long-range needs, goals and ambitions. It includes:
1. Statement of needs for each element (except population, which may be addressed at the local government's option) summarizing the conclusions reached during the inventory and assessment step and addressing ways in which these needs may affect, or be affected by, other elements of the plan.
2. Goal statements expressing the community's common ideals, desires and vision for the future. Goals should be directed toward addressing the community's social, economic and physical needs and opportunities in a manner that will assure the future well-being of the community.
(c) Implementation Strategy: The third step of the planning process shall be undertaken for economic development, natural and historic resources, community facilities, housing and land use. Strategies may also be developed to address population growth trends at the local government's option. The implementation strategy should also establish an overall strategy for plan implementation that merges and coordinates the goals and policies arising from the separate plan elements. The implementation strategy must include the following:
1. Strategies that the local government will employ during the 20-year planning time frame to address the needs and goals articulated in the plan.
2. Any policies the local government will adopt to support community values and to define priorities regarding specific issues and resources addressed in the plan, for the purpose of providing guidance and direction to local government officials in implementing the plan.
(i) A description of community and economic development initiatives or programs, public or private, to be put in place over each of the next five years, including cost estimates and alternative funding sources, where applicable;
(ii) A description of major capital improvements or infrastructure expansions proposed over each of the next five years, including cost estimates and alternative funding sources; and
(iii) A description of administrative systems, regulatory measures or land development regulations to be adopted or amended over each of the next five years. Land development regulations may include building codes, subdivision regulations, zoning ordinances, performance standards, etc.
(4) Data Support: To assist in plan preparation, the department will supply cities and counties with data from standard federal, state and private sources, to the extent that this data is available. However, some of the data required to prepare a local plan that meets the minimum planning standards is not collected by nor available from standard sources and must be gathered locally or obtained from other sources (see Sections (4)(b) and (c), below). When data provided by the department has been collected substantially prior to the year of plan preparation, local governments are encouraged to update this information by any means available to them. Local governments are not required to use the data provided by the department. For projections, they may use specific numbers or a range of numbers which they believe adequately reflect conditions in their community. However, when alternate projections are used, the methods or assumptions used in preparing them should be specified. Whether the data used is provided by the department or obtained elsewhere, it shall be the responsibility of the local government to examine all data critically and to conduct a "reality check" to ensure that the data accurately reflect local conditions.
(a) Data Supplied by the Department: The department will provide local governments with the best available population, demographic, economic development and housing data from the U.S. Census and other standard sources. Some maps and information on natural and historic resources available at the state and federal levels may also be provided by the department. The amount of data available varies from community to community, depending on the size and type of local jurisdiction. For example, much economic data is not available for cities outside of Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Also, some detailed population and economic data are not available for cities with populations under 2,500. Population projections for cities are not available from standards sources for the recommended 20-year planning time frame. Years and time frames for which other data are available also vary, depending on the data collection and publishing schedules of standard sources.
(b) Locally-Collected Data: Community facilities and land use data are not collected by state or federal agencies, and the data for these elements must be collected locally. Some natural and historic resources data may also need to be collected locally.
(c) Data from Other Sources: Other sources of data, such as other state agencies, regional development centers, the university system and local sources such as chambers of commerce, community development authorities, public works authorities and local government offices may also be used to supplement the data provided by the department.
(5) Minimum Planning Elements: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(b)(1), the department is authorized to establish minimum planning elements to be addressed by local governments in the coordinated and comprehensive planning process. The following six topical planning elements have been established and shall be included in all local comprehensive plans: population, economic development, natural and historic resources, community facilities and services, housing, and land use. Nothing in these rules, however, shall be construed to prohibit a community from preparing and submitting a comprehensive plan that exceeds the minimum planning standards or that includes other elements in addition to those prescribed by the department. The minimum plan requirements for each planning element are specified below:
(a) Population Element.
1. Purpose: The Population Element provides local governments the opportunity to inventory and assess trends in population growth or decline and in the demographic characteristics of the population. This information, merged with information in the Natural and Historic Resources Element that identifies constraints and/or opportunities affecting future development, forms a foundation for the Economic Development, Community Facilities, Housing and Land Use Elements of the plan. This information will assist local governments in determining community service and infrastructure needs, employment opportunities and housing needed to support the existing and future population. In addition, this element may be used as a basis for determining desired growth rate, population densities and development patterns that are consistent with the goals and policies established in the other plan elements.
2. Minimum Requirements: The population and demographic characteristics of the community must be inventoried by addressing, at a minimum, the items listed at (i) through (vi), below. Where current data is called for,"current" shall refer to the year of plan preparation or the most recent year for which data is available. Historic data, where required, shall cover approximately 20 years (using the nearest decennial census) prior to the year of plan preparation, at five-year intervals, unless otherwise noted. Future projections, where required, shall cover approximately 20 years beyond the year of plan preparation, at five-year intervals, unless otherwise noted.
3. The information gathered in the inventory must be assessed to identify significant trends in the size of the local population and its characteristics (age distribution, educational attainment, income levels, etc.), especially as compared with regional, state and national trends. Further analysis of this information must be made under other plan elements in determining appropriate economic development strategies, housing and community facility needs, land development patterns, etc.
4. Local governments may also use the information gathered in this element to determine whether the growth trends identified are desirable for the community and whether alternatives for managing or redirecting these trends should be considered. Such an assessment could result in the development of population-specific needs and goals that specify an appropriate rate of growth, and an implementation strategy for managing the community's growth throughout the planning period. Specific items to be addressed are as follows:
(i) Total Population: Include the current, historic and projected total population of the community, and compare the community's growth rate with that of the state. Future total population figures shall be noted at annual intervals for the five years beyond the year of plan preparation.
(ii) Households: Include the current, historic and projected number and average size of households in the community.
(iii) Age Distribution: Include the current, historic and projected age distribution of residents in the community.
(iv) Racial Composition: Include the current and historic racial breakdown of the residents in the community, and identify future trends.
(v) Educational Attainment: Include historic and current educational attainment levels of the adult population, and compare with surrounding counties and the state. Also include, for several recent years, dropout rates, standardized achievement test scores and the percentage of high school graduates continuing on to post-secondary education. For historic educational attainment levels, information from the most recent decennial census prior to the year of plan preparation is sufficient.
(vi) Income: Include current and historic average per capita and average household income levels, and compare with state levels for the same time intervals and in the same dollar units. Also include the current distribution of households by income groupings.
(b) Economic Development Element.
1. Purpose: The Economic Development Element provides local governments the opportunity to inventory and assess the community's economic base, labor force characteristics, and local economic development opportunities and resources; to determine economic needs and goals; and to merge this information with information about population trends and characteristics, natural resources, community facilities and services, housing and land use so that a strategy for the economic well-being of the community can be developed.
2. Minimum Requirements: The economic characteristics of the community must be inventoried by addressing, at a minimum, the items listed at (i), (ii) and (iii), below. Where current data is called for,"current" shall refer to the year of plan preparation or the most recent year for which data is available. Historic data, where required, shall cover approximately ten years prior to the year of plan preparation, at five-year intervals, unless otherwise noted. Future projections, where called for, shall cover approximately 20 years beyond the year of plan preparation, at five-year intervals. Municipalities for which certain data is not available should use comparable data for the county in which they are located and note any known similarities and differences.
3. Based on the information gathered in the inventory, an assessment must be made to determine which economic sectors are growing and declining locally and which sectors should be encouraged to develop in order to complement or diversify the existing economic base of the community. Using information obtained in the Population Element and other elements of the plan, an assessment must also be made to determine whether jobs available in the community are appropriate for the residents in terms of skill and education levels required, commuting patterns, wages paid, etc., and, if not, what options are available to improve the existing economic situation (i.e., programs of business development, attraction and diversification, or job training). In addition, this analysis should determine whether existing local economic development programs and tools or community attributes need to be improved to foster economic development.
4. By its very nature, economic development is rarely confined to a single jurisdiction. Therefore, an assessment of economic assets, problems and opportunities should consider the local economy in a regional context, including (as applicable) such factors as: predominant industries in surrounding counties; nearby educational institutions and vocational training programs; proximity to major market areas; access to regional transportation systems (e.g., regional airports, port facilities, interstate highway systems, etc.); and other regional assets (e.g., natural resources, cultural amenities, waste disposal facilities, etc.).
5. The results of this assessment should be considered in the development of needs and goals and an associated implementation strategy that set forth a plan for economic development in terms of how much growth is desired, what can be done to support retention and expansion of existing businesses, what types of new businesses and industries will be encouraged to locate in the community, what incentives will be offered to encourage economic development, whether educational and/or job training programs will be initiated or expanded, and what infrastructure improvements will be made to support economic development goals during the planning period.
(i) Economic Base: Specific items to be addressed are as follows:
(I) For each economic sector within the community (e.g., retail trade, services, manufacturing, wholesale trade, etc.), include current, historic and projected employment and earnings, and compare with state percentages.
(II) For each economic sector, include current and historic average weekly wages paid, and compare with state percentages and averages.
(III) Include current, historic and projected sources of personal income by type (e.g., wages, unearned, transfer payments, etc.), and compare with state percentages.
(IV) Include recently established and planned major community-level economic activities (e.g., major employers, large manufacturers, new and expanding industries, major plant openings and closings, etc.).
(V) Include special or unique economic activities (e.g., tourism, agribusiness, health care or educational institutions, government, warehousing and distribution, military, retirement, commercial, etc.).
(ii) Labor Force: Specific items to be addressed are as follows:
(I) Include current and historic employment by occupation (i.e., occupations/types of jobs held by residents), and compare percentage in each occupational category with state and national percentages. For historic data, information from the most recent decennial census prior to the year of plan preparation is sufficient.
(II) Include current and historic employment status, and compare with state and national figures. Employment status includes total labor force, civilian labor force, military labor force (where applicable), and participation by sex. For historic data, information from the most recent decennial census prior to the year of plan preparation is sufficient.
(III) Include current and historic unemployment rates, and compare with rates for surrounding counties, the state and the nation. Historic rates should be noted annually for the ten years prior to the year of plan preparation.
(IV) Include current and historic commuting patterns (i.e., employment by place of work and residence). For historic data, information from the most recent decennial census prior to the year of plan preparation is sufficient.
(iii) Local Economic Development Resources: Identify and assess any of the following that exist in the community in terms of their effectiveness or adequacy:
(I) Economic development agencies (e.g., chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, etc.).
(II) Economic development programs or tools (e.g., special tax districts, industrial parks, speculative buildings, business incubators, revolving loan funds, etc.).
(III) Education and training opportunities (e.g., vocational schools, adult education programs, job training programs, etc.).
(c) Natural and Historic Resources Element.
1. Purpose: The Natural and Historic Resources Element provides local governments the opportunity to inventory their natural, historic and environmentally sensitive resources; to consider the issues, problems and opportunities associated with those resources; and to develop goals, policies and strategies for their appropriate use, preservation and protection that are consistent with those established for other plan elements.
2. Minimum Requirements: This element must address the following minimum planning requirements:
(i) Natural Resources: Where applicable to the community, the natural resources and environmentally sensitive areas listed below must be inventoried. Maps are strongly recommended for inclusion in the plan to indicate the locations of resources within the jurisdiction. An assessment must then be conducted to consider how natural resources can most wisely and responsibly be utilized, developed, managed or preserved in order to yield maximum long-range benefits to the community. The assessment should also consider the potential vulnerability of the community's natural resources to land development and other human activities, and should evaluate whether protecting them is important to the future health and economic well-being of the community. Levels of community support for conservation of various natural resources should also be considered. The results of this assessment should be considered in the development of needs and goals and an associated implementation strategy that set forth any special treatment or protection to be provided these resources over the planning period. Any strategies developed by local governments for the protection of the resources listed at (I) through (V), below, must specifically reference the Department of Natural Resources' Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria developed pursuant to O.C.G.A. 12-2-8. Specific items to be addressed, where applicable to the community, are as follows:
(I) Water Supply Watersheds: Include water supply watersheds, or any portions thereof, as defined and provided for in the Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria.
(II) Groundwater Recharge Areas: Include groundwater recharge areas as defined and provided for in the Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria.
(III) Wetlands: Include wetlands as defined and provided for in the Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria.
(IV) Protected Mountains: Include protected mountains as defined and provided for in the Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria.
(V) Protected River Corridors: Include protected river corridors as defined and provided for in the Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria.
(VI) Coastal Resources: Include beaches, coastal marshes and estuaries that are vulnerable to the impacts of development.
(VII) Food Plains: Include areas within the community that are subject to flooding, based on the 100-year, or base, flood.
(VIII) Soil Types: Include soil types in terms of their suitability for development.
(IX) Steep Slopes: Include areas, other than protected mountains, where the slope of the land is steep enough to warrant special management practices.
(X) Prime Agricultural and Forest Land: Include areas valued for agriculture or forestry production that may warrant special management practices.
(XI) Plant and Animal Habitats: Include areas that support rare or endangered plants and/or animals.
(XII) Major Park, Recreation and Conservation Areas: Include major federal, state and regional parks, recreation areas and conservation areas (e.g., wildlife management areas, nature preserves, national forests, etc.). Note: Local parks and recreation areas should be identified in the Community Facilities and Services Element.
(XIII) Scenic Views and Sites: Include significant visual landmarks and vistas that may warrant special management practices.
(ii) Historic Resources: Using the list provided below as a guide, a general inventory of historic resources in the community must be conducted. At a minimum, the inventory should include any districts, sites or individual structures identified on formal surveys that may have been conducted for the community and all existing or nominated National Register sites and districts, as well as any resources that are likely to qualify for that designation. A map is strongly recommended for inclusion in the plan to indicate where historic resources are located and how they are distributed in relationship to one another an/or related community facilities. Once an initial inventory has been completed, a determination should be made as to whether further documentation or study of historic resources is appropriate.
(iii) An assessment must then be conducted to consider the potential benefits of historic resources in terms of promoting tourism, contributing to the overall visual appeal and traditional character of the community, maintaining a healthy downtown economy and/or providing cost effective space to house local government functions and public activities. The assessment should also evaluate community support for preservation and should identify any historic resources that are in need of attention by the local government due to rapid physical deterioration or unintended land use conflicts.
(iv) The result of this assessment should be considered in the development of needs and goals and an associated implementation strategy that set forth any provisions for the preservation, protection, redevelopment and/or promotion of any locally significant historic resources identified. Historic resources to be addressed, where applicable, include:
(I) Residential Resources: Historic residential districts, neighborhoods and individual homes.
(II) Commercial Resources: Historic commercial districts (e.g., crossroads, downtowns, etc.) and individual buildings (e.g., general stores, offices, etc.).
(III) Industrial Resources: Historic railroad structures and buildings, mills, factories, etc.
(IV) Institutional Resources: Historic institutional districts and individual buildings (e.g., schools, military complexes, churches, etc.).
(V) Rural Resources: Historic landscapes, farm complexes, crossroads communities, bridges, roadways, barns, plantations, etc.
(VI) Historic, Archaeological and Cultural Sites: Historic battlegrounds, tabby ruins, cemeteries, burial grounds, etc.
(d) Community Facilities and Services Element.
1. Purpose: This element provides local governments the opportunity to inventory public facilities and services; to assess their adequacy for serving present and future population and economic needs; to determine future needs and identify goals; and to outline a strategy for providing the desired level of public facilities and services throughout the planning period.
2. Minimum Requirements: The adequacy of the community's public facilities and the level of services provided must be inventoried by addressing, at a minimum, the items listed at (i) through (x), below. Once the inventory is complete, an assessment must be made to determine whether existing facilities and current levels of service are adequate to meet the needs of the community. The assessment must also determine, based on population projections and needs and goals identified in other plan elements, whether future needs and goals of the community can be met with existing facilities and services or whether improvements will be needed to accommodate anticipated population and economic growth. The assessment should also consider means of optimizing utilization of existing facilities (e.g., conservation measures, multi-purpose uses, increased productivity or operating hours, etc.) as an alternative to expanding existing facilities to meet community needs and goals. The results of this assessment will form the basis for the development of needs and goals and an associated implementation strategy that define capital improvements, service expansions and/or utilization strategies to be implemented over the planning period. Specific items to be addressed, where applicable to the community, are as follows:
(i) Transportation Network: Include roads, highways, sidewalks, signalization and signage, bridges, public transportation, railroads, port facilities, airports, etc.
(ii) Water Supply and Treatment: Include the location and useful life of existing distribution and treatment systems.
(iii) Sewerage System and Wastewater Treatment: Include the location and useful life of existing collection and treatment systems.
(iv) Solid Waste Management: Include the location and useful life of existing disposal facilities, whether publicly or privately operated, and the adequacy of the waste collection system. Also consider the need for recycling or other waste reduction strategies. Note: Specific items that must be considered in a solid waste management plan prepared in accordance with the Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act are outlined in the Minimum Planning Standards and Procedures for Solid Waste Management. The seven elements which must be addressed in such a plan are: Amount of Waste, Collection, Reduction, Disposal, Land Limitation, Education and Public Involvement, and Implementation and Financing. These requirements may be met within the Community Facilities Element of the comprehensive plan or may be prepared in a separate solid waste management plan.
(v) Public Safety: Include police, sheriff, fire protection and EMS facilities, equipment and services.
(vi) Hospitals and Other Public Health Facilities: Include local hospital and public health facilities.
(vii) Recreation: Include local parks, recreation facilities and programs, and public open space.
(viii) General Government: Include city halls, county courthouses and other local government administration buildings.
(ix) Educational Facilities: Include facilities and equipment available for preschool, elementary, secondary, post secondary and adult education; and vocational training.
(x) Libraries and Other Cultural Facilities: Include libraries, museums, theaters, amphitheaters, auditoriums, civic centers, botanical gardens and other cultural facilities.
(e) Housing Element.
1. Purpose: The Housing Element provides local governments the opportunity to inventory the existing housing stock; to assess its adequacy and suitability for serving current and future population and economic development needs; to determine future housing needs and articulate goals; and to formulate a strategy for the adequate provision of housing for all sectors of the population.
2. Minimum Requirements: This element must address, at a minimum, the items listed at (i) through (iv), below. Where current data is called for,"current" shall refer to the year of plan preparation or the most recent year for which standard data is available. Historic data, where required, shall cover approximately 20 years, at the years of the decennial census, unless otherwise noted. Future trends, where called for, shall be forecast over the twenty-year planning horizon, based on local analysis of the data and knowledge of the community.
3. Once the inventory is complete, an assessment must be made to determine whether existing housing is appropriate to the needs and desires of residents in terms of quantity, affordability, type and location, and, if not, what might be done to improve the situation. The assessment should also consider whether there are problems (for example, over - or under-building; residential areas underserved by infrastructure and community facilities; concentrations of substandard housing, low home-ownership rates, etc.) with the local housing market that could be addressed by the local government. In addition, the assessment should determine, based on projections of number of households and local preferences, the quantity and types of housing units required to meet the community's needs throughout the planning horizon. The results of this assessment should be considered in the development of needs and goals and an associated implementation strategy that set forth any programs for housing development or assistance to be undertaken during the planning period. Specific items to be addressed are as follows:
(i) Types of Housing Units: Include current and historic number of single-family and multi-family dwellings, and identify trends for the future.
(ii) Age and Condition of Housing: Include current and historic age and condition of housing stock, and compare with state average.
(iii) Owner & Renter Occupied Units: Include current and historic number of owner and renter occupied units, and vacancy rates of each. Also compare vacancy rates and owner-to-renter ratios with state percentages.
(iv) Cost of Housing: Include current and historic median purchase price of owner-occupied units and median monthly rent of renter-occupied units, and compare with state figures.
(f) Land Use Element.
1. Purpose: The Land Use Element provides local governments the opportunity to inventory existing land use patterns and trends; to determine future patterns of growth, based on community needs and desires; and to develop goals, policies and strategies for land use that strike a balance between effective and efficient delivery of public services, protection/preservation of vulnerable natural and historic resources, and respect for individual property rights.
2. Standard Classification System: In order to facilitate the development of a state and regional land use data base, land use categories used in local plans must be consistent with the standard land use classification system established by the department. More detailed categories used by local governments must be sub-categories that can be grouped into one of the following eight standard categories:
(i) Residential: The predominant use of land within the residential category is for single-family and multi-family dwelling units.
(ii) Commercial: This category is for land dedicated to non-industrial business uses, including retail sales, office, service and entertainment facilities. Commercial uses may be located as a single use in one building or grouped together in a shopping center or office building.
(iii) Industrial: This category is for land dedicated to manufacturing facilities, processing plants, factories, warehousing and wholesale trade facilities, mining or mineral extraction activities, or other similar uses.
(iv) Public/Institutional: This category includes certain state, federal or local government uses, and institutional land uses. Government uses include city halls and government building complexes, police and fire stations, libraries, prisons, post offices, schools, military installations, etc. Examples of institutional land uses include colleges, churches, cemeteries, hospitals, etc. Facilities that are publicly owned, but would be classified more accurately in another land use category, should not be included in this category. For example, publicly owned parks and/or recreational facilities should be placed in the Park/Recreation/Conservation category; landfills should fall under the Industrial category; and general office buildings containing government offices should be placed in the Commercial category.
(v) Transportation/Communications/Utilities: This category includes such uses as power generation plants, railroad facilities, radio towers, public transit stations, telephone switching stations, airports, port facilities or other similar uses.
(vi) Park/Recreation/Conservation: This category is for land dedicated to active or passive recreational uses. These areas may be either publicly or privately owned and may include playgrounds, public parks, nature preserves, wildlife management areas, national forests, golf courses, recreation centers and similar uses.
(vii) Agriculture/Forestry: This category is for land dedicated to farming (Fields, lots, pastures, farmsteads, specialty farms, livestock production, etc.), aquaculture, or commercial timber or pulpwood harvesting.
(viii) Undeveloped: This category is for land not developed for a specific use or land that was developed for a particular use but that has been abandoned for that use. This category includes woodlands or pasture land (not in agriculture crop, livestock or commercial timber production), undeveloped portions of residential subdivisions and industrial parks, water bodies (lakes, rivers, etc.), and locations of structures that have been vacant for some time and allowed to become deteriorated or dilapidated. For mixed- or multi-use sites or Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), the predominant land use should be used to classify the entire site.
3. Minimum Requirements: The land use element must include an existing land use map, land use assessment, future land use map and future land use narrative, as described below:
(i) Existing Land Use Map: A map of the community's existing land uses must be prepared using the eight land use categories listed at (f)2. above. The existing land use map must be of sufficient scale and accuracy to provide a clear understanding of the general distribution of land uses and their spatial relationships to one another.
(ii) Land Use Assessment: Items to be addressed, where applicable to the community, are listed at (I) through (VIII), below. The results of the land use assessment should be considered in the development of needs, goals and policies as reflected on the Future Land Use Map, and an associated implementation strategy that sets forth any regulations, incentives and/or infrastructure the community intends to use or put in place to guide patterns of land development throughout the planning horizon.
(I) Historical factors that have led to current development patterns, to the extent that these can be identified;
(II) Land use patterns and densities as they relate to the location of infrastructure and the provision of public services, and any areas where rapid development threatens to outpace infrastructure capacity;
(III) Blighted areas and transitional areas undergoing shifts in predominant land use;
(IV) Estimates of current acreage dedicated to each of the eight land use categories listed at (f)2. above, and approximate acreage needed in each category to accommodate projected growth in population, employment and housing during the planning period;
(V) Problems with the existing mix of land uses that could be mitigated or corrected in the future through the allocation of land to more appropriate land use categories or through other local governmental policies (e.g., requiring natural buffers to separate incompatible land uses);
(VI) market forces and local development policies that could affect growth patterns.
(VII) Environmentally sensitive or locally valued areas identified in the Natural and Historic Resources Element as being unsuitable for development or in need of special management practices.
(VIII) Evaluation of the options of encouraging infill development in areas where infrastructure and services are available versus expanding infrastructure and services into new areas.
(iii) Future Land Use Map and Narrative: A map of future land uses must be prepared, using the eight land use categories listed at (f) 2. above. While the future land use map is not intended to dictate specific activities on individual parcels of land, and is not enforceable in and of itself, it should indicate the community's preferences for the general locations of land uses that are consistent with the needs, goals and policies developed in other elements of the plan. The future land use map should also reflect careful consideration of the results of the land use assessment conducted under (ii), above.
1. In conjunction with the Future Land Use Map, a narrative statement summarizing the overall reasoning behind the land use patterns shown on the map should be prepared. The statement should provide a general description of factors such as geographic areas within the community proposed to receive particular types of growth; areas where significant transitions from one land use to another are expected to occur; the timing or sequencing of any infrastructure improvements needed to support desired growth patterns; and any other factors expected to influence growth patterns including private sector initiatives, significant development constraints, etc.
(6) Special Considerations: Major federal and state properties and facilities, such as military installations, correctional institutions, parks, protected natural areas, forests and wildlife refuges, etc., are important items to be considered in the development of local plans because of their impact on land use and employment within an area. Local governments should consider and evaluate the development plans of federal and state agencies operating within their jurisdictions in carrying out their planning responsibilities. Local governments are also encouraged to develop close working relationships with federal and state agency planners working within their jurisdictions and to advise them of local plan proposals.
(7) Updates to the Short Term Work Program: Updates to the Short Term Work Program shall be prepared by local governments in accordance with one of the following two options:
(a) Local governments may prepare and submit annual updates to their Short Term Work Program. Each annual update shall include a new fifth year and any changes to any other year's work program. Annual updates to the Short Term Work Program are subject to the procedures outlined at 110-3-2-.06(10)(a), Minimum Procedural Standards; or
(b) Local governments may prepare and submit an update to their Short Term Work Program no later than six months prior to the expiration of their Qualified Local Government certification. This update shall include:
1. a summary of plan accomplishments and a discussion of existing work program items that have not been accomplished to date; and
2. a new Short Term Work Program covering the subsequent five-year period. This update is subject to the procedures outlined at 110-3-2-.06(10)(b), Minimum Procedural Standards.
(8) Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan: An approved local plan shall be amended when, in the judgment of the local government, the conditions or policies on which the plan were based have changed significantly so as to alter the basic tenets of the plan. The department may also require that an approved local plan be amended, within a timeframe prescribed by the department, to accommodate revisions to the Minimum Local Planning Standards. Procedures for the submittal and review of plan amendments are outlined at 110-3-2-.06(11), Minimum Procedural Standards.
(9) Updates to the Comprehensive Plan: Updates to the comprehensive plan shall occur, at a minimum, every ten years. However, after five years, community leaders should determine if the comprehensive plan needs a major update, based upon the degree of change in the community. If little has changed, minor revisions to the plan may be sufficient, in the form of plan amendments. If major changes have occurred or if the data upon which the plan is based has become dated, a complete update of the comprehensive plan should be initiated. Procedures for the submittal and review of plan updates are outlined at 110-3-2-.06(12), Minimum Procedural Standards.
(10) Variances: Any deviation from the planning standards set forth herein must be approved by the department in accordance with the procedures outlined at 110-3-2-.06(2), Minimum Procedural Standards.

Rule 110-3-2-.05 Additional Planning Elements

(1) General: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-35(c)(4), a regional development center may require that local plans within its region include additional planning elements along with those prescribed by the department. Before imposing such a requirement, the center shall have received the department's approval of the additional planning elements.
(2) Process for Approval: The department may establish procedures and guidelines for the submittal and review of regional development center requests pursuant to (1), above.

Rule 110-3-2-.06 Minimum Procedural Standards

(1) General: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-8-7.1(b), the department has established minimum procedural standards for use in the coordinated and comprehensive planning process. The following procedures are to be used in the preparation, submittal, review, adoption, update, and amendment of local government comprehensive plans.
(2) Variances: In instances where a local government has existing or proposed planning or procedural practices that differ from (yet meet the intent of) the minimum local planning standards or minimum procedural Standards outlined at 110-3-2-.04 and 110-3-2-.06, the department may grant the requesting local government a variance from these requirements in order to recognize special or unique local conditions. The department may attach conditions to variances, such as requiring the local government to bring its plan into compliance with these minimum standards within a specified time period. Unless identified as part of any conditions the department may attach to a variance at the time it is granted, a variance continues in effect only until the next required update of the local government's comprehensive plan. To obtain a variance, a local government must first make a request to its regional development center, providing sufficient documentation to substantiate the need for the proposed variance. The regional development center will then make a recommendation to the department on whether a variance should be granted. If the department finds the request for a variance to be justified, it will grant a variance to the requesting local government. Since the planning and procedural standards presented herein are minimum in nature, local governments are encouraged to exceed these standards, where appropriate. In cases where a local governments' planning process clearly exceeds the minimum standards and procedures, approval of the department is not required.
(3) Compliance with Standards: It is understood that initial compliance with the minimum standards and procedures by municipalities and counties will take several years. Therefore, a five-year schedule for phasing in local government compliance has been developed by the department, with the assistance of regional development centers and local governments in the state. This official schedule, called the Local Government Recertification Schedule, will be maintained by the department and updated at least annually during the phase-in period.
(a) Local governments shall prepare, submit for review, and subsequently adopt a comprehensive plan that meets the minimum planning standards and procedures on or before the date listed in the Local Government Recertification Schedule.
(b) Nothing in this process shall be construed as prohibiting a local government from preparing, submitting and adopting a comprehensive plan that meets the minimum standards and procedures prior to its scheduled recertification date.
(c) Local governments that prepare, submit for review and adopt a comprehensive plan that meets the minimum standards and procedures on or prior to the date listed in the Local Government Recertification Schedule shall be recertified as a "Qualified Local Government" by the department. To retain Qualified Local Government certification, a local government must remain in compliance with the requirements outlined in these minimum standards and procedures.
(4) Public Participation: All local governments must hold a minimum of two public hearings prior to the submittal of their draft comprehensive plan to the regional development center for review.
(a) At least one public hearing must be held prior to the development of the plan to inform the public about the purpose of the plan and the process to be followed in the preparation of the plan, as well as to elicit community input on needs and goals. Local governments should follow the public hearing notification procedures they normally use in announcing and conducting public hearings.
(b) At least one additional hearing must be held just prior to the submittal of the draft plan to the regional development center for review. The purpose of this hearing is to brief the community on the contents of the draft plan, to provide an opportunity for residents to make suggestions, additions or revisions, and to notify the community of when the draft plan will be submitted to the regional development center for review.
(5) Plan Submittal: The governing body of the submitting local government must take official action, by resolution, authorizing the transmittal of the draft plan to the regional development center for review and certifying that the minimum public participation requirements have been met.
(6) Regional Development Center Review: The regional development center shall review local plans for compliance with the minimum standards and procedures and, in consultation with other local governments in the region, determine whether the adoption or implementation of a particular plan would present any conflict with plans or policies of other governmental units. The procedures to be used by regional development centers in reviewing local plans are as follows:
(a) Within ten days after receipt of a draft local plan, the regional development center shall notify the parties listed at 1. through 3., below, of the availability of the plan for review and comment. This notification shall include, at a minimum, the name(s) of the submitting local government(s), the date of plan submittal and the general nature of the plan. Notice shall be provided to:
1. Local governments within the region that are contiguous to the submitting local government, and other local governments within the region that are likely to be affected by the plan;
2. Local governments outside the region that are contiguous to the submitting local government and their regional development center(s); and
3. Members of the Governor's Development Council.
(b) Within 15 days after notifying the parties listed above, the regional development center shall conduct a hearing at which any local government, regional development center or state agency may present its views on the submitted local plan. The rules for conducting such hearings must be adopted by the board of directors of the regional development center and approved by the department.
(c) Within 15 days after the hearing referenced at (b), above, the regional development center shall, in writing:
1. Recommend approval of the plan to the department and notify the submitting local government of such approval;
2. Recommend approval of the plan to the department and offer specific suggestions to the submitting local government that would improve the plan. (These comments shall also be provided to the department); or
3. Recommend to the department that the plan not be approved based upon noncompliance with the minimum standards and procedures, and suggest measures to the submitting local government that would correct the deficiencies. (These comments shall also be provided to the department).
4. In addition to making one of the three recommendations above, the regional development center shall identify any conflicts with plans of local governments within the region, plans of contiguous local governments outside the region, or any regional plans. The regional development center shall notify the department and the submitting local government of any conflicts or inconsistencies identified and shall assist in resolving such conflicts.
5. The regional development center shall notify members of the regional development center executive committee of all plan recommendations and conflicts that are identified.
(d) Within ten days after the regional development center's recommendation is made public, a submitting local government that disagrees with the recommendation may petition the regional development center for a "reconsideration hearing." This hearing shall be scheduled and held by the regional development center within 15 days after receipt of such a request. Within ten days after the reconsideration hearing, the regional development center shall either continue or modify its original recommendation and provide written notice of its decision to the submitting local government and to the department.
(e) Whether or not a reconsideration hearing is held, the department retains the right to make the final determination as to whether a plan is in compliance with the minimum standards and procedures.
(f) Informal or formal mediation of conflicts relating to local plans may be initiated in accordance with the procedures for Mediation of Interjurisdictional Conflicts adopted by the Board of Community Affairs.
(g) In no event shall a local government take any official action to adopt or put into effect a local plan prepared in accordance with the minimum standards and procedures until at least 60 days after the plan is first submitted to the regional development center for review. In cases where reconsideration is requested, the period shall be a minimum of 90 days.
(h) The regional development center shall notify the department within seven days after being notified that the plan prepared in accordance with the minimum standards and procedures has been adopted.
(7) Local Government Action:
(a) If the department concurs with the regional development center's recommendation that the plan meets the minimum standards and procedures, the local government may:
1. Adopt the plan as submitted if no suggestions for improvement are made by the regional development center; or
2. Adopt the plan, with or without any suggested improvements made by the regional development center.
3. In no event, however, shall a local government adopt a plan that meets the minimum standards and procedures until at least 60 days after the plan is submitted to the regional development center for review.
(b) If the department concurs with the regional development center's recommendation that the plan does not meet the minimum standards and procedures, the local government may:
1. Revise the plan based upon the regional development center's comments and submit the proposed revisions to the regional development center for review;
2. Disagree with the recommendation and request a reconsideration hearing; or
3. Disagree with the recommendation and adopt the plan as originally submitted. However, for a local government to be certified as a Qualified Local Government, the plan adopted must be in compliance with the minimum standards and procedures.
(8) Local Plan Adoption: The governing body of the submitting local government shall notify the regional development center, in writing, within seven days of the adoption of the plan prepared in accordance with the minimum standards and procedures. No such adoption shall occur until 60 days after the plan is first submitted to the regional development center for review, or 90 days if reconsideration is requested.
(9) Department Action: Once the department has been notified by the regional development center that a local government has adopted a plan in accordance with the minimum standards and procedures, the department may issue a letter certifying the submitting local government as a Qualified Local Government. Qualified Local Government certification shall automatically expire five years from the date of departmental approval of the plan unless otherwise specified as a condition of variance. To retain Qualified Local Government certification a local government must remain in compliance with the requirements outlined in these minimum standards and procedures.
(10) Updates to Short Term Work Program: Depending on which option a local government chooses for updating its Short Term Work Program as described at 110-3-2-.04(7), Minimum Local Planning Standards, procedures for submittal and review of these updates shall be as follows:
(a) Annual updates, as described at 110-3-2-.04(7)(a), Minimum Local Planning Standards, shall be submitted to the regional development center by local governments no later than 30 days after the end of each year of the five-year work program. The regional development center shall maintain a file of annual updates as they are submitted by local governments and shall make them available to interested parties upon request; or
(b) No later than six months prior to the expiration of its Qualified Local Government certification, local governments shall submit to the regional development center an update as described at 110-3-2-.04(7)(b), Minimum Local Planning Standards. The regional development center shall review all submitted updates for compliance with the standards and shall make these updates available to interested parties upon request. The regional development center may submit comments pertaining to this update to the local government and the department, but is not required to do so.
(c) At least 30 days prior to the date a local government's Qualified Local Government certification is due to expire, the regional development center shall notify the department as to whether the local government has updated its Short Term Work Program in accordance with either of the two options described above and has otherwise met the requirements contained in these minimum standards and procedures.
(d) Upon receiving notice from the regional development center that a local government has met the requirements outlined above and is otherwise in compliance with the minimum standards and procedures, the department may issue a letter to the local government extending its Qualified Local Government certification an additional five years. To retain Qualified Local Government certification, a local government must remain in compliance with the requirements outlined in these minimum standards and procedures.
(11) Plan Amendments:
(a) Proposed amendments to local plans, as described at 110-3-2-.04(8), Minimum Local Planning Standards, shall follow the submittal and review procedures outlined at 110-3-2-.06(4) through (9), with the following exceptions:
1. Only one public hearing must be held, for the purpose of informing the public of the intent to amend the plan and receiving suggestions and comments on the proposed amendment.
2. The review period for plan amendments shall conclude with a determination by the regional development center, no later than 40 days after the proposed amendment is submitted for review, or 70 days if reconsideration is requested. If the proposed amendment does not affect the local plan's meeting the minimum standards and procedures and if no conflicts are identified by the regional development center, the submitting local government may thereafter adopt the plan amendment. Where appropriate, local governments shall act in good faith to resolve any conflict as provided for in the procedures for Mediation of Interjurisdictional Conflicts adopted by the Board of Community Affairs.
(b) While local governments are encouraged to keep their plans current, it is not intended that each minor amendment being considered by a local government be submitted for review to the regional development center. Proposed amendments that are strictly local in nature and are not considered as having an effect on another local government need not be submitted to the regional development center for review. However, a summary of such minor amendments shall be submitted annually to the regional development center with a statement by the local government that the individual and cumulative effects of the minor amendments do not significantly alter the basic tenets of the approved plan.
(12) Plan Updates: Plan updates, as described at 110-3-2-.04(9), Minimum Local Planning Standards, shall be prepared, at a minimum every ten years and shall follow the submittal and review procedures described at 110-3-2-.06(4) through (9), above.

Rule 110-3-2-.07 Development Impact Fee Compliance Requirements

(1) General: The Georgia Development Impact Fee Act (O.C.G.A. Sec. 36-761-1et seq.), passed during the 1990 session of the General Assembly, sets certain conditions, related to comprehensive planning, which must be met by local governments before an impact fee ordinance can be implemented. The Act requires local governments wishing to impose development impact fees to adopt a comprehensive plan which meets the Minimum Planning Standards and Procedures and which contains the additional planning components outlined at 110-3-2-.07(2).
(a) Applicability: The comprehensive planning requirements listed in this chapter apply to all local governments intending to implement a development impact fee ordinance pursuant to the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act.
1. Unless otherwise provided for herein, the planning requirements contained in this chapter shall have an effective date of April 4, 1990.
2. All local ordinances or resolutions imposing impact fees for system improvements that existed on or before April 4, 1990, shall be brought into compliance with the provisions of the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act, including the planning requirements contained herein, no later than April 4, 1992.
(b) Definitions: For the purposes of this chapter, the following words shall have the meaning as contained herein unless the context does not permit such meaning. Terms not defined in this chapter but defined in O.C.G.A. Sec. 36-71-1et seq., shall have the meanings contained in O.C.G.A. Sec. 36-71-1et seq. Terms not defined in this chapter, nor in O.C.G.A. Sec. 36-71-1et seq., shall have ascribed to them ordinary accepted meanings such as the context may imply.
1. 'Capital Improvement' means an improvement with a useful life often years or more, by new construction or other action, which increases the service capacity of a public facility.
2. 'Capital Improvements Element' means a component of a comprehensive plan adopted pursuant to O.C.G.A. Sec. 50-8-1et seq. which sets out projected needs for system improvements during a planning horizon established in the comprehensive plan, a schedule of capital improvements that will meet the anticipated need for system improvements, and a description of anticipated funding sources for each required improvement.
3. 'Development Impact Fee' means a payment of money imposed upon development as a condition of development approval to pay for a proportionate share of the cost of system improvements needed to serve new growth and development.
4. 'Level of Service' means a measure of the relationship between service capacity and service demand for public facilities in terms of demand to capacity ratios or the comfort and convenience of use or service of public facilities, or both.
5. 'Project Improvements' means site improvements and facilities that are planned and designed to provide service for a particular development project and that are necessary for the use and convenience of the occupants or users of the project and are not system improvements. The character of the improvement shall control a determination of whether an improvement is a project improvement or system improvement and the physical location of the improvement on-site or off-site shall not be considered determinative of whether an improvement is a project improvement or a system improvement. If an improvement or facility provides or will provide more than incidental service or facilities capacity to persons other than users or occupants of a particular project, the improvement or facility is a system improvement and shall not be considered a project improvement. No improvement or facility included in a plan for public facilities approved by the governing body of the municipality or county shall be considered a project improvement.
6. 'Public Facilities' means:
(i) Water supply production, treatment and distribution facilities;
(ii) Wastewater collection, treatment and disposal facilities;
(iii) Roads, streets and bridges, including rights of way, traffic signals, landscaping and any local components of state or federal highways;
(iv) Stormwater collection, retention, detention, treatment and disposal facilities, flood control facilities, and bank and shore protection and enhancement improvements;
(v) Parks, open space and recreation areas, and related facilities;
(vi) Public safety facilities, including police, fire, emergency medical and rescue facilities; and
(vii) Libraries and related facilities.
7. 'Service Area' means a geographic area defined by a municipality, county or intergovernmental agreement in which a defined set of public facilities provides service to development within the area. Service areas shall be designated on the basis of sound planning or engineering principles, or both.
8. 'System Improvements' means capital improvements that are public facilities and are designed to provide service to the community at large, in contrast to 'project improvements.'
(2) Comprehensive Planning Requirements:
(a) Purpose: Linking the implementation of a local development impact fee ordinance to the comprehensive planning process ensures that projected needs for system improvements are consistent with the needs and goals identified in the various other elements of the comprehensive plan. In addition, the identification of projected capital facilities needs based on levels of service established in the comprehensive plan provides a sound foundation of the calculation of impact fees.
(b) Application: The comprehensive planning requirements for compliance with the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act shall consist of (1) a Capital Improvements Element, containing the items specified below; and (2) a public policy statement in support of certain exemptions, as determined by the local government and as defined below.
1. Capital Improvements Element: The Capital Improvements Element shall include, but not be limited to, the following items:
(i) Projection of Needs: A projection of needs for system improvements during a planning horizon established in the comprehensive plan. To ensure consistency, the timeframe used for projecting infrastructure needs shall coincide with the planning horizon used for the remainder of the comprehensive plan.
(ii) Schedule of Improvements: A schedule of capital improvements intended to meet the projected needs for system improvements identified in the comprehensive plan. At a minimum, improvements shall be scheduled over a five-year period, coinciding with the initial Short Term Work Program developed in the comprehensive plan. Thereafter, local governments shall annually update and maintain, at a minimum, a five-year schedule of system improvements within the Capital Improvements Element of their comprehensive plans.
(iii) Description of Funding Sources: A description of anticipated funding sources for each required improvement.
(iv) Designation of Service Areas and Levels of Service: The designation of one or more service areas within the community and the assignment of levels of service for public facilities within each service area. Once assigned to each service area, levels of service shall be used as the basis for calculating impact fees.
2. Policy Statement for Exemptions: Local governments wishing to exempt all or portions of particular development projects from impact fees for the purposes of encouraging economic development and employment growth or affordable housing must include in the comprehensive plan a policy statement supporting such exemptions and must fund system improvements supporting such projects through revenue sources other than development impact fees.
(c) Support: The department will provide municipalities, counties and regional development centers with general guidance regarding the preparation of the required Capital Improvements Element and its incorporation into the comprehensive plan.
(3) Procedural Requirements for Capital Improvements Element (CIE): The following procedural requirements shall apply each time a local government prepares a CIE for one of the categories of public facilities described under O.C.G.A. 36-71-2.
(a) Public Participation: Local governments shall follow the public participation requirements for local plans outlined in Rule 110-3-2-.06, Minimum Procedural Standards.
(b) Submittal of the CIE for Review: CIEs shall be submitted for review in accordance with the local plan submittal requirements outlined in Rule 110-3-2-.06, Minimum Procedural Standards. In the case of a joint CIE, each participating local government must adopt a transmittal resolution submitting the CIE for review.
(c) Regional Development Center Review and Department Approval: CIEs shall be reviewed and approved according to the procedures outlined in Rule 110-3-2-.06, Minimum Procedural Standards, with the exception of a CIE prepared in conjunction with an Interim Plan, which shall be reviewed according to the review procedures outlined in Section 110-3-2-.08.
(d) Local Government Adoption: CIEs shall be adopted in accordance with the procedures outlined in Rule 110-3-2-.06. In the case of a joint CIE, all participating local governments must adopt the CIE in order for each local government to be certified as meeting the CIE requirements.
(e) CIE Amendments: Amendments to an adopted CIE shall follow the procedures for local plan amendments outlined in Rule 110-3-2-.06, Minimum Procedural Standards.
1. These procedures must be followed in order for the local government to:
(i) Redefine growth projections, land use assumptions or community goals that would affect system improvements proposed in the CIE;
(ii) Add new impact fee service areas or change the boundaries of existing impact fee service areas;
(iii) Change service levels established for an existing impact fee service area; or
(iv) Make any other revisions that might have a negative effect or major impact on another jurisdiction or authority.
2. Changes in funding sources, project costs, or dates of construction of projects listed in the Schedule of Improvements shall not be considered to be amendments to the CIE and need not be submitted for review.
(f) CIE Update: Updates to an adopted CIE shall follow the procedures for local plan updates outlined in Rule 110-3-2-.06, Minimum Procedural Standards.

Rule 110-3-2-.08 Interim Local Government Planning Standards for Development Impact Fee Compliance

(1) Purpose: These interim planning standards are intended to allow local governments that are served by water authorities, sewer authorities and/or water and sewer authorities (hereinafter referred to as "Authority"), and that have not reached their recertification date on the schedule for local government planning established by the department, to adopt a Local Government Interim Plan for Development Impact fee Compliance (hereinafter referred to as an "Interim Plan"). The purpose of the Interim Plan is to identify the needs and goals of such local governments and provide short-term direction to Authorities in developing water and sewer system improvements. The Interim Plan is also intended to allow Authorities to continue collecting hook-up or connection fees for system improvements until their local governments are due to complete their plans in accordance with Rule 110-3-2-.04 of the Minimum Standards and Procedures.
(2) Application: Local governments that are served by may satisfy the planning requirements specified in the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act (DIFA), and specifically O.C.G.A. 36-71-3(a) and O.C.G.A. 36-71-12(c)thereof, by preparing and adopting an Interim Plan, which shall contain, at a minimum, the planning elements and items listed herein and a complete Capital Improvements Element (CIE) for water and/or wastewater treatment in accordance with Rule 110-3-2-.07 of these rules. Such Interim Plan shall satisfy the planning requirements for water and/or wastewater treatment only, and shall not be deemed to satisfy the planning requirements necessary to impose impact fees for the other categories of capital improvements listed in O.C.G.A. 36-71-2.
(a) Once adopted along with an approved CIE, an Interim Plan that meets these standards shall be deemed to meet the planning requirements established in DIFA and allow the collection by an of impact, connection or hook-up fees until the local governments recertification date on the schedule for local government planning. The Interim Plan and CIE shall expire on the local government's recertification date or any time before this date that a local plan prepared in accordance with Rule 110-3-2-.04 is adopted. In any event, all local governments participating in an Interim Plan shall be required to meet the Minimum Standards and Procedures in accordance with Rules 110-3-2-.04 and 110-3-2-.06 by their recertification date established by the department in order to remain eligible to impose impact fees under O.C.G.A. 36-71-1.
(3) Definitions: For the purposes of this section, the following terms and definitions shall have the meaning as contained herein unless the context does not permit such meaning:
(a) 'Authority' means any water authority, sewer authority or water and sewer that is not exempted from the requirements of DIFA under O.C.G.A. 36-71-13(d).
(b) 'Service Distribution Area' means an area in which an has the capacity to provide water or wastewater treatment service to development and in which such services are available upon demand through the payment of a hook-up or connection fee subject to any regulations that might be imposed by local governments.
(4) Interim Planning Requirements: Interim Plans must include the following planning elements:
(a) Population Element;
1. Current total population for each jurisdiction included in the Interim Plan; and
2. Projected total population for each jurisdiction at five and ten years beyond the year of plan preparation.
(b) Economic Development Element:
1. Employment forecasts by place of work at five and ten years beyond the year of plan preparation (county level forecasts may be used); and
2. Consideration of any special economic sectors (existing or anticipated) within the Authority's current or proposed service distribution area that might be expected to place intensive demands on water supply and/or require specialized wastewater treatment.
(c) Natural and Historic Resources:
1. A map indicating any environmentally sensitive areas within the Authority's current and proposed future service distribution areas, including, at a minimum, groundwater recharge areas, flood plains, water supply watersheds, sensitive plant and animal habitats, and areas with soil and/or slopes unsuitable for septic tanks; and
2. An evaluation of the immediate and potential long-term effects of the water and wastewater system improvements on the resources identified in (c)1. and on any known significant historic resources.
(d) Community Facilities Element:
1. A map of the existing service distribution area of the and an assessment of the adequacy of water and/or wastewater treatment facilities. The map should indicate the location for public reservoirs, water storage facilities, filtration and wastewater treatment plants, water intake and release points, and limitations on water withdrawal or release;
2. The total water supply and/or wastewater treatment capacity and the amount of this total capacity that is currently being used; and
3. A map indicating the proposed service distribution area of the at five years from the year of plan preparation (if different than the collective impact fee service areas established in the CIE).
(e) Housing Element:
1. Estimated number of housing units for each jurisdiction served by the at five years beyond the year of plan preparation;
2. A description of any problems related to areas of existing housing that are under-served by water and/or wastewater treatment; and
3. An indication of where proposed water and sewer services will be in place to support the development of multi-family or institutional housing.
(f) Land Use Element:
1. An assessment of existing land use patterns as they relate to the provision of infrastructure and a description of pertinent issues such as areas where rapid development threatens to outpace infrastructure capacity and areas undergoing shifts in predominant land use; and
2. Any existing or future land use maps or zoning maps that have been adopted by local governments included in the Interim Plan, and a general description of any changes to these documents anticipated by the local government(s) during the first five years after plan preparation.
(g) Needs and Goals:
1. Local governments should assess their needs and include any community goals they may have for the planning elements listed above.
2. If a local government wishes to allow exemptions from impact fees for affordable housing or projects offering extraordinary economic benefits to the community as allowed by DIFA, policies regarding these exemptions must be included in the Interim Plan or in the CIE.
(5) Procedural Requirements: Interim Plans shall be subject to the procedural requirements outlined below:
(a) Public Participation: All local governments participating in the Interim Plan must hold one public hearing prior to the submittal of their draft Interim Plan and CIE to the department for review.
(b) Plan Submittal: No Interim Plan shall be submitted without a CIE. Each local government that intends to adopt an Interim Plan must take official action, by resolution, authorizing the transmittal of the interim plan to the department for review. The transmittal may be made at the public hearing required in (a), above, or within seven days thereafter.
(c) Review by the Department: The department shall review the Interim Plan for compliance with the planning requirements outlined at (4), above. Within 30 days after submittal of the Interim Plan for review, the department shall, in writing:
1. Notify the local government that the Interim Plan meets the planning requirements outlined above; or
2. Notify the local government that the Interim Plan does not meet the planning requirements outlined above and identify any deficiencies that need to be reconciled in order for the Interim Plan to meet the requirements.
(d) Opportunity for Regional Development Center Comment: Upon submittal of the draft Interim Plan to the department for review, a copy of the transmittal notice, the draft plan and the CIE must also be forwarded to the appropriate regional development center. The regional development center has ten days from receipt of the Interim Plan to submit written comments for consideration in the review process.
(e) Local Government Action:
1. Upon notification from the department that the Interim Plan meets the planning requirements outlined above, the local government may adopt the Interim Plan.
2. If the department finds that the Interim Plan does not meet the planning requirements, the local government may either:
(i) Revise the draft as recommended by the department and resubmit the Interim Plan for review; or
(ii) Adopt the plan as originally submitted. However, unless an Interim Plan is found by the department to be in compliance with the planning requirements outlined above, the submitting local government will not be eligible to impose, nor an within that jurisdiction to collect, impact fees.
3. Within seven days of adoption of the Interim Plan, the governing body of the submitting local government shall notify the department that the Interim Plan has been adopted. The submitting local government shall, at this time, also forward a copy of the approved Interim Plan and CIE to the appropriate regional development center and the Authority, along with notice that the Interim Plan has been found by the department to be in compliance with the Interim Local Government Planning Standards.
(f) Department Action: Upon receiving notice that the submitting local government has adopted an approved Interim Plan and CIE, the department will issue a letter certifying that the local government has met the Interim Local Government Planning Standards and the CIE requirements outlined in Rule 110-3-2-.07.
(g) Interim Plan Amendments: Amendments to Interim Plans shall follow the procedures for local plan amendments outlined in Rule 110-3-2-.06, Minimum Procedural Standards.