Category: Featured

Space Flight Noise, Atlanta's Transit Awakening, and Confusing Stream Buffer Rules Highlight the 2016 Legislative Session

Last year the Georgia Supreme Court threw the policy into confusion when it declared that the buffer only applies when “wrested vegetation” (permanent vegetation) is present along rivers and streams. This effectively means that the buffer could apply and then not apply every few feet along a single river. For example, if a property owner has a lot that abuts a river, the rule may apply for the first two feet where vegetation is present then not apply along the next 15 feet if no vegetation is present… and then apply again along the next 30 feet where vegetation is present. This clearly creates a confusing and somewhat silly situation….So the Georgia House took up HB-966 to declare once and for all that the buffer applies along all state rivers and streams regardless of whether vegetation is present.

The Fire-Ravaged West Faces the Same Land Use Issues as the Water-Starved Southeast

Politically the mountain west states (Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Utah) are very similar to southeastern states. Both place a high emphasis on local land use control and generally prefer a more libertarian approach to such regulation. But as population increases in both areas of the country, un-checked development is fueling the growth and severity of wildfires and straining the ability of rivers to provide adequate water supplies. Many states in the southeast, including Georgia and Florida, have already recognized the need for state-wide regulations that cross local jurisdictional borders and now Colorado seems to be coming to the same realization. The next steps in the southeast are to pressure other states to adopt state-wide regulations and to foster the growth of regional, inter-state regulations and guidelines.

How We Use Water in the Southeast Will Now Be Determined By the US Supreme Court

This is just to name the major legal players. Countless other people are impacted by how water is allocated in the ACF Basin, though they may not have legal standing to bring suit. The waters have extensive recreational and aesthetic value, which serve both economic and emotional purposes. The unpredictable flow of the Chattahoochee River and rise and fall of Lake Lanier hurts the economic interest of adjacent landowners and recreational outfitters. Countless individuals use the waters of the ACF Basin for boating, fishing, and other recreational purposes. These are just the economic uses. An un-quantifiable value lies in the sheer beauty of the area. People buy and rent homes in the area for the aesthetic value. People hike, bird-watch, and camp in the area for the aesthetic value. These incidental users have largely been reduced to the sidelines as state leaders continually fail to reach compromise.