City manager also recommends lowering millage rate to 1.819 mills

Euharlee City Council approves sweeping overlay ordinance

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Members of the Euharlee City Council voted unanimously at Tuesday evening’s public meeting to approve the adoption of the Euharlee Road Corridor Design Overlay — or, as City Planning and Zoning Administrator Charles Reese dubbed it earlier this year, “ERCDO.”

The overlay ordinance encompasses the bulk of the southern section of Euharlee Road, from the City limits entrance near McCormick Road to the property in between Woodland Middle School at Euharlee and the Etowah River bridge. 

Reese, at an April meeting, described the ERCDO as “a regulatory tool that creates a special zoning district placed over an existing zoning district, which identifies provisions of the community.”

Ultimately, Reese said the intent of the overlay ordinance is to promote economic developments in Euharlee, but in a manner that maintains its “character.”

The ordinance creates stricter standards for things such as landscaping, signage and architectural design. Although Reese said existing properties within the corridor would be considered “non-conforming,” he also said those properties will be grandfathered in upon the ordinance taking effect.

“There’s not a situation where we’re saying ‘OK, this residential property is going to have to abide by the new regulations,’ that will not happen, they will carry on as they do,” Reese told The Daily Tribune News last month. “Whatever’s existing out there is what it is, unless down the road that property is going to be rezoned … that’s when that ERCDO becomes activated.”

Reese said he’s optimistic that, in addition to drawing more economic investments to the community, the ERCDO will also lead to more mixed-use and residential developments coming to Euharlee.

“That’s pretty much the emphasis surrounding the overlay ordinance, we’re doing it in a way where you still recognize the fact you’re in Euharlee, you’re not in metro Atlanta, so that’s why we wanted to have more say in our zoning ordinances in terms of what comes out here,” he said. “We’re trying to ensure that those certain developments are not going to come into this area. Industrial would have to be something that’s planned down the road, that’s not really the plan of the overlay ordinance at this time — we want the type of uses that are compatible with what’s already here.” 

Euharlee City Manager James Stephens said that two parcels that did not have road frontage on Euharlee Road have been taken off the original ERCDO map, but beyond that, there have been no “proposed edits to the wording of the ordinance” in the lead up to Tuesday’s council vote.

Elsewhere on the agenda, Stephens recommended the council vote to rollback the City’s millage rate to 1.819 mills — a decrease of about 0.181 mills over last year’s rate.

“That is taking into consideration growth in the Euharlee district digest and reassessments,” Stephens said. “With that rollback, the City’s tax levee would be approximately the same as it was last year, however, each individual [taxpayer] will see a decrease in their Euharlee tax by almost 10% … that would keep us sound, financially, and I think when we prepare the 2020 budget we’ll be looking at a possibility to roll it back even further, if not totally to zero once the debt payment is off of us and capital items like police vehicles and public works vehicles can be funded out of SPLOST.”

The council, which approved a motion to advertise the tentative rollback at Tuesday’s meeting, is set to approve or deny the reduced millage rate at a special-called meeting set for Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at 30 Burge’s Mill Road.