Planning and Development is responsible for the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan, which is the main planning document in Rockdale County. The Comprehensive Plan is updated on a regular basis, with the engagement of the community. It provides a long-term vision for the County which is reflected in zoning, land use and development regulations.
Additionally, Planning and Development conducts small area studies, prepare a variety of ordinances, and ensure compliance with state and regional planning requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Comprehensive Plan?
The State of Georgia, like the majority of other states in the nation, requires that municipalities prepare a comprehensive plan covering a 20-year span. The plan is based on the existing conditions of the community. It proposes a vision of the future, and it deploys policies for the implementation of this vision. It is a process that involves all stakeholders, from elected officials to business owners and families. It addresses land use but also includes provisions for infrastructure like roads and sewers, community services, and protection of the natural environment.
For more information on the state requirements, consult the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ website.
Why do we plan for the future? Isn’t zoning enough?
The Comprehensive Plan takes into account current demographic, environmental and economic trends and projects them into the future. This type of plan is not a road map, because it is bound to change and to be adjusted. Rather, it provides guidelines and strategies to accommodate future growth and to pursue our common vision. It supports sound economic development and protects private property rights.
Zoning, on the other hand, reflects current land uses, or those expected in the near future. It is usually in sync with the Future Land Use Map (FLUM), a component of the Comprehensive Plan, but essentially depicts the past and current patterns, no matter what vision we have for the future of our county. A zoning amendment must be in line with the FLUM to be approved; see Section 202-6. Relationship to the Comprehensive Plan of the Unified Development Ordinance.
The Comprehensive Plan is also a state requirement to maintaining our Qualified Local Government status, which enables us to apply for grants, among other benefits.
When is our Comprehensive Plan Update due?
The Comprehensive Plan is revisited every five years. In 2013, Rockdale County obtained from the Georgia Department of Public Affairs an exemption from this requirement while DCA was updating the rules.
The next major update is due to DCA by October 31, 2018.
How can I get involved in the planning process?
There are several ways to get involved with planning. One of them is to attend the Conyers-Rockdale Planning Commission meetings, where zoning amendment cases are heard and new ordinances are proposed. The other is to directly contact the Department, in person, by phone, or by email. We love discussing the future of our community, and we are always open to suggestions and comments.
What are the state and regional requirements for planning?
Rockdale County must prepare and maintain the Comprehensive Plan, in accordance with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs rules.
We are also required to comply with The Atlanta Region’s Plan (formerly called Plan 2040), prepared by the Atlanta Regional Commission.
We participate voluntarily in other programs, such as Green Communities.
What is an Urban Redevelopment Plan (URP)?
An Urban Redevelopment Plan is a tool to assess the existing conditions in an area in need of redevelopment and to propose revitalization strategies. The Rockdale County URP adopted in 2011 covers over 1,6000 acres on either sides of Interstate 20, on the west side of the county. Most of the land is zoned and used for industrial activities, but it includes as well some commercial properties. The adoption of a URP is a necessary step before applying for an opportunity zone.
What is an Opportunity Zone?
An Opportunity Zone is an area designated under the rules of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for tax relief. Businesses located in the OZ are eligible for job tax credits, up to $3,500 annually, for each new position created. To qualify, a business must create at least two new jobs.
The Rockbridge Opportunity Zone includes 35 parcels along Rockbridge Road and Lester Road, between Old Covington Highway and Sigman Road.
For more information on properties located in the OZ, please contact the Department of Planning and Development.
For information on the tax credit, please contact the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
For information on conducting business in Rockdale County, please contact the Chamber of Commerce.
What is an Overlay District?
An overlay district is a designated area where additional standards supplement the underlying zoning designation. Overlays are commonly used in historic, environmentally sensitive, and dilapidated areas to address a common issue that is not related to the base zoning. The Salem Road Corridor is the only overlay district in unincorporated Rockdale.
Why is Salem Road in an Overlay District?
The Salem Road Corridor Overlay District was adopted in 2004 and was designated as such because of a proposed plan from the Georgia Department of Transportation to expand the roadway. This corridor is also an important commercial artery in unincorporated Rockdale.
The intent of the SRCO is to promote the creation of a thriving commercial environment that is aesthetically appealing and walkable. At the moment, it is the only area in the county where mixed-use development is allowed.
The regulations pertaining to the SRCO can be found under Chapter 210 of the Unified Development Ordinance.