In April 2008, Walton County adopted Ordinance 2008-10, which established a neighborhood planning program for any area designated as NPA on the Future Land Use Map. This program allows residents, neighborhood associations, individual property owners and owners’ associations to propose neighborhood plans for the County to consider as overlay districts. The following is a brief overview of the Neighborhood Planning Program requirements. Additional requirements can be found in section 2.03.00 of the Walton County Land Development Code (LDC).
The process of preparing a neighborhood plan involves a series of specific steps and a timeline established to facilitate community involvement. Central to the success of citizen based planning is gauging interest and gathering support for the concept of creating a neighborhood plan. Affected property owners must be notified by the Neighborhood Planning Group, and given an opportunity to demonstrate support for investigating the idea of creating a Neighborhood Plan for their area. A minimum of 20% neighborhood support is required for the effort to proceed.
Next, the Neighborhood Planning Group must hold at least one community meeting to facilitate public input into the neighborhood plan. All affected property owners to be included in the neighborhood plan must be notified prior to all community meetings. Additional community meetings are encouraged. Documentation of community involvement is required by the county.
When complete, the proposed neighborhood plan will address the following elements; an introductory statement including a statement of past development patterns in the neighborhood, description of community involvement, community goals, existing conditions map, proposed neighborhood plan map, and a provision for establishing the vested rights of existing properties. Other elements that may be considered are transportation, neighborhood access, building heights, parking, landscaping, architectural review, minimal and maximum lot size, setbacks, lot coverage, or other elements approved by the Current Planning Department. It may determine development standards, but it cannot change land use.
The neighborhood plan must receive a recommendation of approval from at least 66% of the property owners who respond. The plan will then be reviewed for compliance with the Walton County Comprehensive Plan and general consistency with the Walton County Land Development Code. If the plan passes the review process, it will then be scheduled for a public hearing before the Walton County Planning Commission and subsequent hearings before the Board of County Commissioners. The proposed neighborhood plan/overlay must be adopted as an amendment to the Walton County Land Development Code. This adoption requires one public hearing before the Planning Commission and two public hearings before the Board of County Commissioners.