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Commissioners ponder R-8 zoning again
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Effingham County commissioners again discussed creating a new zoning ordinance that could allow for townhome developments.

Commissioners have yet to adopt the proposed R-8 zoning that would allow for eight dwellings to be built on one acre.

“It would contain a number of design criteria that would make it safe and add to the appearance, including open space, exterior surfaces, aesthetics and to account for parking,” said county senior planner George Shaw.

Under the proposed ordinance, R-8 zoning would only be allowed within two miles of a municipality in order for it to be near services.

“This is not a district that would be placed anywhere in the county,” Shaw said.

He also said all the safety issues brought forth by county Fire Chief Val Ashcraft have been addressed in the zoning.

The R-8 zoning was explored after builders proposed a seniors-only development in the county. Shaw said Robert Plank is planning on detached homes for his planned development.

“I’ve talked to several builders who were interested in townhome-style developments and on their property now we don’t allow that on their lot,” Shaw said. “They would have to be multi-family. Evidently, there’s a market for both types.”

A townhome zoning district could be created later if having attached units is a problem, Shaw said.

Commissioners wondered how it could be possible to fit as many as eight units on one acre.

“It would be hard to put eight detached dwellings on one acre,” Commissioner Hubert Sapp said. “If you got eight on one acre, you don’t have any place to stand on the outside.”

Shaw said an overall development will not have eight units to an acre.

“They won’t be able to land plan that,” he said.

But an acre within a larger development could have eight units.

“You have to have 20 percent open space right off the bat,” Shaw said “You have to have sidewalks.”

He added the R-8 zoning is more structured than what’s allowed under planned unit development zoning, which regulates much larger developments, but it is designed to offer another thing that is allowed in PUDs on a smaller acreage.

Commissioners also asked about the possibility of an R-6 zoning district with the same stipulations as the R-8 proposal.