Butts County commissioners on Monday moved to begin the process of adopting design guidelines for homes built in the county.

The Board of Commissioners has been discussing a set of residential standards at meetings since at least July. A draft of the standards proposed on Monday, which received an initial approval from the Board of Commissioners in a 4-1 vote, requires the front of new homes be constructed with at least two design features from a list that includes elements like dormers, gables, cupolas and covered front porches.

Garages on homes would be required to have entries on the side or rear of homes, except in the R-3 zoning district where lots are smaller, such as around Jackson Lake, if the regulations get final approval.

The proposed regulations also specify minimum roof pitch, allowable roof materials and the materials used for cladding at least three sides of homes. Allowable siding materials would be stone, wood, masonry, concrete, concrete stucco, brick or fiber-cement siding, commonly known as HardiePlank.

Before giving initial approval to the draft regulations, commissioners removed item one dealing with the siding material on manufactured homes in order to redraft the rule.

Butts County Zoning Administrator Christy Lawson said because the regulations would change the county’s Unified Development Ordinance, they will go through normal zoning procedures, which include advertising and public hearings before the Butts County Planning and Zoning Commission and Butts County Board of Commissioners.

District 4 Commissioner Keith Douglas cast the dissenting vote on moving the regulations forward.

“I do not want to get into the business of telling people how to build their houses ... That’s just my personal opinion,” he said during the pre-meeting workshop, adding he would rather commissioners focus “on more important things, like trying to bring some industry here.”

The commission’s move to impose design guidelines on residential structures follows the Jackson City Council’s recent vote to offer density bonuses to developments in certain city zoning districts. The city’s new regulations, adopted Aug. 20, allow lots of 9,000 square feet in certain zoning districts if the homes are a minimum of 2,000 square feet of heated and air conditioned space, meet EarthCraft or LEED certification standards, are roofed entirely with architectural shingles and at least 67% of the outer walls are clad in brick, stone or stucco.

The Board of Commissioners’ proposed design guidelines do not address lot size or building square footage.

The commission’s proposed standards would be applied to all of the county’s residential zoning districts. In the workshop, District 3 Commissioner Joe Brown indicated support for such guidelines in more dense zoning districts, but looser regulations in low-density, rural areas of the county.

Commission Chairman Ken Rivers said he supports the guidelines being applicable throughout the county.

“As I’ve looked through these design standards, I don’t think there’s anything that hurts the look of a house, with it being across the board,” Rivers said.

Also on Monday, the Board of Commissioners:

♦ Tabled a decision on a disputed communications tower application. The special use permit application for the tower off Cork Road was tabled in August as well. The delay Monday is expected to give attorneys for Southern Linc and the Board of Commissioners time to agree on language to allow a contingent approval at next month’s meeting.

♦ Approved a list of county roads on which the Butts County Sheriff’s Office may utilize radar equipment to detect vehicle speed.

♦ Approved an update to the county’s industrial incentive plan that officials said aligns the plan better with state incentives that calculate wage bonuses based on average wages rather than per capita income.

♦ Approved spending an additional $60,000 on a road project at Jackson Road and Ga. Highway 16, in the vicinity of the Dollar General Distribution Center and the Ga. 16 travel center currently under construction.

♦ Approved spending up to $75,000 from special purpose local option sales tax proceeds to replace computers with operating systems that soon will no longer be supported.

Managing Editor

Michael Davis has been the editor of the Jackson Progress-Argus since 2010. He previously worked as an editor and reporter for the Henry Daily Herald and Clayton News-Daily.