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Preparing for new zoning: LaGrange modifies rezoning notification requirements

The City of LaGrange is in the midst of a major zoning rewrite. On Tuesday, the LaGrange City Council voted to modify rezoning notice requirements to ensure that when the new zoning ordinance is adopted, every property in the city will not be required to have a sign posted to note the change in zoning name.

According to discussion in previous city council meetings, the updated zoning ordinance will primarily update language to reflect changes to laws and zoning conventions since the last rewrite. In most cases, city officials said the ordinance change will only change the name of the designations.

“This is the upcoming wholesale rewrite of the zoning ordinance that will most likely be on our agenda in the spring or summer, and this will allow us to not have to post every piece of property in the city, but will allow us to just do publication, Facebook, newspaper announcements,” LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said.

The city plans to host several community forums to discuss the change, with the first forum set to take place on Dec. 6.

“I imagine there will be other [meetings] to follow, but this will be the first to really get the public engaged,” City Planner Leigh Threadgill said. “I would encourage any of you that are interested to come and hear about where we are in the process.”

Council Member Willie Edmondson asked if the change would impact how zoning changes requested by property owners are advertised. City Manager Meg Kelsey said that it would not impact those requirements at all, because it was specifically crafted to account for the zoning rewrite without requiring every property in city limits to have a sign advertising the zoning change.

“For example, my house is currently zoned R-1,” Thornton said. “R-1 is going to go away. There is not going to be an R-1 zoning come June. There is going to be a new standard, and it will probably have the same rules — single family, half acre lots, all those same rules will apply — but it will have a different name and title to bring it up to modern standards. Technically that is rezoning my property, even though it is not really affecting the use.”

Thornton noted that the modification may loosen the requirements on advertising rezoning requests from the city, but he said the rewrite would be the first city rezoning request in his memory of his time with the city council.

“I do think it is important to note — we’ve already had the public hearing. There’s a public meeting at the chamber. There are the Facebook posts that Katie [Mercer Van Schoor, the City of LaGrange’s marketing and communications manager] has been pushing out, and we’ve had newspaper articles,” Thornton said.

“I do think that especially as it gets closer to time that the council may actually may be taking some action, whether that is March or June, I think we need to do some very intentional publicity because I don’t want anyone coming in in August, and saying, ‘What the heck are you up to?’ I want this to be a very transparent, very open process.”

Kelsey and Van Schoor said that the forum will be streamed to the city’s Facebook page so that anyone who cannot attend can still learn about the zoning rewrite.

“We are going to Facebook Live it, and we will record it as well,” Van Schoor said. “So, it will be on the Facebook page, but we will also tape it for in-house use.”

The City of LaGrange will host a zoning public meeting on Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce