WALESKA, GA (October 6, 2023) – The Georgia Chapter of the American Planning Association recognized Cherokee County and its cities with prestigious awards for efforts in cooperative planning.

Over the last few years, Cherokee County has worked with each city’s leadership to resurrect and update long-expired growth boundary agreements. While a growth boundary agreement is not legally binding, it provides guidance for cities and the county on where the cities will grow, as well as coordination on character areas and other planning efforts.

The GPA bestowed Cherokee County and its cities with the Distinguished Leadership and Service Contribution Award for Innovation in Planning during the annual GPA Conference held September 20-22.

The award is given in recognition of a specific planning tool, practice, program, project or process that is a significant advancement to specific elements on planning. The category emphasizes results and demonstrates how innovative and state-of-the-art planning methods and practices helped implement a plan.

“I am proud of our team of planning professionals and the work they have completed in cooperation with our cities’ leadership in re-establishing the growth boundary agreements,” said County Manager Geoff Morton. “The GPA’s recognition of the hard work and cooperation of all involved on behalf of the citizens of our county is well deserved.”

The city of Waleska also was recognized with the GPA’s Outstanding Planning Document for Small Communities for the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The Small Communities designation is reserved for cities with fewer than 1,000  or counties with fewer than 10,000 residents. Cherokee County  provides the city of Waleska with its planning documents, and all development requests requiring the planning and zoning process go through the Cherokee County Municipal Planning Commission.

Also at the annual GPA conference, Cherokee County hosted two breakout sessions for those in attendance. The annual conference is a professional development opportunity for municipal planners to learn and share experiences from others in the field.

Coming off their own experience with a Comprehensive Transportation Plan, county staff assisted with breakout session “Get Going with Your CTP: The Latest in Comprehensive Transportation Planning.” Community Development Director Brantley Day said the panel discussed how local governments can create a Comprehensive Transportation Plan from start to finish. The panel included Liz Sanford with the Atlanta Regional Commission, Eric Lusher with Gresham Smith and David Pickworth with VHB, Inc., the company contracted to complete Cherokee County’s CTP adopted earlier this year. The county’s plan was highlighted during the presentation.

The second session, “Wall Street Landlords and Single-Family Rental: Housing Implications for Georgia and the U.S.,” focused on corporate investors owning and renting property in a city or county. Many communities across Georgia and the U.S. have experienced a corporate influx of housing investment, turning properties owned by individuals to corporate rental properties. Day invited Dr. Ken Chilton, associate professor at Tennessee State University, who studies the effect on institutional investing on housing, to present his research. Chilton’s research focuses on how corporate involvement is changing the landscape of homeownership across the country.

The program also included Clint Mueller, government affairs director with the ACCG, who focused on a housing legislation overview from the last session of the Georgia General Assembly and what can be expected in the 2024 General Assembly. Several bills were introduced over the past legislative sessions involving preempting counties and cities from regulating rental and certain housing standards.


GPA Growth Boundary Agreement: Pictured, from left, Adam Hazell, GPA Awards Committee Chair; Thomas Trawick, Zoning Division Manager; Chris Luly, Ball Ground Planning & Zoning Director; Brantley Day, Community Development Agency Director; David Greenberg, Senior Planner; and Whitney Shephard, GPA President.




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