On January 22, 2007 Gwinnett County officials issued a notice reminding builders, developers, and engineers of the April 1, 2007 deadline for meeting the County’s Stream Buffer Ordinance grandfather provisions for multi-phased developments to be considered exempt from the current stream buffer and impervious surface setback requirements. The ordinance was adopted by the Board of Commissioners in April 2005 in response to EPD’s notice to the County that it must meet the standards established under the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Plan and adopt the proposed model ordinances recommended by MNGWPD.
The Council and the development community has known for sometime of the impending deadline related to the Gwinnett County ordinance which was slightly modified from the MNGWPD model stream buffer ordinance. At the Councils insistence, County officials added a two-year grace period for multi-phased developments to be considered for exemption from the new standards (buffer and impervious surface setback). This allowed developers time to begin construction on their projects. The ordinance stated that developers had two calendar years in which to obtain a permit for development if the County received and approved a Concept or Preliminary Plat within 90 days of the adoption of the new ordinance (Article 3, Subsection 3.1.4, Page 5).
The Council was concerned about the original language of the draft ordinance and worked with County officials to draft language that would be acceptable to the industry. At that time, it was the understanding of the Council and our members that the matter in question was any development permit (land disturbance, grading, etc.) or construction permit (for roads and infrastructure) but did not include building permits for individual lots. The language in Article 2 Definitions (regarding land development, land development activity, land disturbance, and permits) clearly reflects that same understanding.
The Council is greatly concerned by recent interpretations of the ordinance and definitions by County staff, as described in the January 22 Notice. The Council believes that the staff has improperly interpreted the intent of the clause (Subsection 3.1.4) and will be working closely with County officials to rectify the situation. A meeting has been scheduled with County officials on Friday, February 2nd to further discuss the matter and an official response has been written detailing our concerns. Council staff will continue to work to resolve the concerns of our members and will monitor the implementation of the ordinance very closely as the deadline draws nearer.
Gwinnett Memo- Deadline Notice (issued 01/24/07)