Glynn County commissioners received an update on a major rewrite of the county’s zoning ordinance Tuesday.
In 2018, the county hired the planning and architecture consulting firm TSW to work with the government and the public to draw up a modern and comprehensive zoning ordinance. The commission will have to approve the new ordinance once it’s finished.
Part of that effort is surveying the public and commissioners for their opinions on certain aspects of the zoning ordinance, TSW senior associate Woody Giles said.
It was the survey of commissioners that led consultants with TSW to narrow their focus in certain areas, Giles said.
Among the subjects taken off the table were specific standards for marsh and coastal construction, Giles said.
During a public hearing in November, residents voiced support for environmentally minded zoning regulations. Most said they wanted to see the county improve the resiliency of infrastructure to sea level rise and other effects of climate change.
Residents also said they hoped for an updated zoning ordinance emphasizing resiliency in coastal development standards.
Based on the survey, Giles said the consultants will steer clear of expanding the Mainland and Islands planning commissions; altering height restrictions on St. Simons Island; tinkering with the prohibition on lot coverage variances on St. Simons Island; creating a special zoning district for true agriculture land uses; and altering buffer requirements, among other things.
Topics the consultants will continue to look at include golf cart and bike parking standards; continuing to require buildings to be constructed one foot above sea level; better protections for historic buildings; additional requirements for giving notice to residents of nearby developments; tree planting requirements; mandatory conservation subdivisions; and new mixed-use zoning districts.
Between spring and early summer, consultants will offer more public input sessions for additional feedback on recommendations before drafting a new zoning ordinance.
Giles said consultants are on track to finish a final draft later this year or early next year.
In other business, the commission directed county manager Alan Ours to seek proposals for a new employee pension plan framework.
For years, commissioners have been discussing whether or not to keep its current defined benefits pension plan — in which employees become vested in stages based on the length of their employment and pay nothing directly into the plan — or switch to a defined contributions plan — essentially a 401k retirement account.
The commission did not decide how much the county would contribute to individual retirement accounts, but the majority of commissioners did not favor forcing current employees to switch from one plan to the other.
If the commission decides to go ahead with the new pension arrangement, all employees hired after Jan. 1, 2021, would be subject to the new plan.
A planned presentation by the Glynn County Airport Commission was postponed. Airport officials were expected to make a case for an update to the airport commission’s ordinance.
Among other things, the updated ordinance would reduce the size of the commission from nine members to five; allow the airport authority to sign contracts to manage airport facilities outside the county; create a new committee to vet and recommend rules and regulations; and give the airport commission the ability to represent the interests of the county before relevant government agencies.
Airport commission chairman Doug Hudson said he will present the proposal to the county commission at its March 17 work session.