The Georgia Supreme Court recently seemed to endorse the idea that sidewalks are necessary to promote the health and safety of residents. Well, kind of. At the very least, the Court’s ruling highlights the necessity of adopting urban planning policies that are focused less on cars and more on the well-being of residents.
This is an important question since structures built under the auspices of an old zoning code that are now excluded from the current zoning code are at odds with the updated vision for the community. This may not be a big deal when, say, a house is constructed a year after an area is rezoned for commercial use. However, it becomes increasingly problematic when that house is now a power plant and the one year has increased to ten. This ability to develop based on a 10 year old zoning code creates uncertainty for potential residents and developers who may find the nonconforming development to be an undesirable neighbor.
The case lets surface the fundamental problems we have in addressing quality housing for all people. At a time when affordable housing shortages are increasingly widespread, the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision should prompt us to address a past wrong. We can start by encouraging the private development of affordable housing in the same we encourage the private development of other important land uses, like conservation and agriculture.
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.
While the Supreme Court cleared the way for Mapache to challenge title, it still must produce legible documents that clearly show the marshlands and tidelands were conveyed by the Crown. Back in 2006, the Georgia Supreme Court heard a similar case. In Black v. Floyd, the judgement of the lower court was affirmed by the Supreme Court because the landowners could not clearly show the property was conveyed by the crown. They had the documents, but they were so illegible that as a matter of law the court was able to rule for the State of Georgia. The landowners stated that the documents instructed the grantee to drain swamp and marsh “if any such contain herein.” The Court, though, said that even if the documents did say that, it wouldn’t be enough to show that the Crown clearly intended to convey tidewaters.
Last summer the Georgia Supreme Court severely restricted the application of a buffer rule along all state streams – a buffer seemingly designed to protect water quality. The Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation […]
Case Watch: Georgia's Waters May Get a Bit Murky Thanks to Poor Statute Writing by the Georgia Legislature
State water could soon get quite murky thanks to a new ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court. Several month ago we highlighted Turner v. Georgia River Network as a case to watch since […]