Carl Vinson Institute Declines to Help Stephens Co. Draft Land Use Proposal

Stephens County will not receive any more help on developing a land use plan proposal from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.

County Administrator Phyllis Ayers said that the institute notified her recently that it would not enter into a contract with Stephens County to provide professional assistance on developing a land use plan.

Ayers said officials at the Carl Vinson Institute gave her two reasons for their decision.

“One, they wanted to handle the whole process from beginning to end and this committee has already been working on a process that was guided by the Carl Vinson Institute in the beginning,” said Ayers. “The second reason is (the Institute said) there are many political issues that have faced Stephens County in the past and currently concerning this subject and they (the Institute) do not want to participate in this subject.”

Previously, Stephens County and its Land Use Regulation Committee had decided to seek professional assistance from the Carl Vinson Institute on the land use issue after meeting with a number of groups and individuals.

Located at UGA, the Institute’s website states it provides education, assistance, research, policy analysis, and publications to assist public officials in serving citizens in Georgia and throughout the world.

Ayers said she had not received any previous indicates that the Carl Vinson Institute would not help, adding that the county had already spent time working with employees from the institute.

“Three members from the Carl Vinson Institute came and met with us and we interviewed them and spent some time with them and they had been guiding us through several items thus far and they were chosen as the one (to provide professional assistance),” said Ayers. “When it came time to sign a contract between the Stephens County government and the Carl Vinson Institute to complete this process, as it got up above the three that were working with us, that is when it was stopped.”

Ayers did say that the process of developing a land use plan for consideration by the county commission will not be affected by this development.

According to Ayers, she and the committee, along with County Attorney Brian Ranck will continue to develop and write a proposal, seeking help where needed from different sources.

“If we run into a snag, we have a list of seven or eight people we can call,” said Ayers.

Land Use Regulation Committee Spokesperson Cynthia Brown echoed that, saying that the committee continues to push ahead on the same schedule it set previously.

Stephens County Commissioners tasked the Land Use Regulation Committee in March with coming up with a land use plan for the commission to consider and vote on.

In April, the committee set a goal of having a proposal put together in six months or less.

Currently, Ayers said the committee continues to review Franklin County’s land use regulation plan, which is being used as a guide for the development of Stephens County’s proposal.