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County readies comprehensive plan for state approval
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After months and nearly years of work, the Effingham County comprehensive plan is finally complete.

County commissioners approved a resolution to adopt the comp plan. The last section has been sent to the state Department of Community Affairs, county zoning administrator George Shaw said.

“It’s been a long process,” he noted.

The state requires counties to have comprehensive plans, and all 159 have adopted one, Shaw said. There are seven counties that don’t have zoning. Without a comp plan, the county cannot earn qualified local government status. Such status is needed to be eligible for state grants and loans.

The plan has met a series of critics throughout the process. Steve Collins, a longtime opponent, voiced his complaints to the commissioners before they adopted it.

“Effingham County most definitely needs a comprehensive plan,” he said. “I oppose the comprehensive plan — it is an infringement on private property rights.”

Shaw, however, reiterated that the comp plan does not specify zoning for individual parcels.

“It has policies for potential future ordinances,” he said. “It is a guide and it steers us to potential ordinances for the future. The ordinances can restrict what you can do with private property, and they do now.”

The comp plan also isn’t etched in stone, county officials said.

“It is a fluid document and can be changed every year,” commission Chairman Dusty Zeigler said.

Shaw said the comp plan tries to look 20 years into the county’s future but needs a full update every 10 years. Updates can take place within the next 10 years, when the next comprehensive plan is due.

One issue is still outstanding — the county and the three cities need to have a service delivery strategy agreement to send to the state.