Philipp von Hanstein

County Commissioner Philip von Hanstein worries that the Rivian development will set a precedent for surrounding property owners currently zoned agricultural to seek rezoning for housing and commercial uses in the future.

The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted unanimously to approve a moratorium extension, banning all rezoning requests for the five-mile radius surrounding Stanton Springs North, where Rivian Automotive is planning to build an electric vehicle manufacturing plant.

Morgan County Planner Chuck Jarrell requested the extension, asking to wait until the new Morgan County Comprehensive Plan is finalized before considering any rezoning requests for that area. While no official requests have been filed, when news broke about Rivian setting up shop in Stanton Springs North, the planning department received numerous phone calls inquiring about rezoning opportunities.

“We were hoping to have a final draft and adoption of the comp plan before the moratorium ended,” said Jarrell. The moratorium was slated to end on Tuesday, May 3. “We respectfully request that we extend the moratorium for an additional six months to get the adoption of the new comprehensive plan to better determine what the appropriate zoning should be for that area,” said Jarrell.

The rezoning moratorium does not apply to the Rivian site, only the five-mile radius surrounding the Morgan side of the 2,000-acre property, which will be owned by the State of Georgia.

County Commissioner Philip von Hanstein was concerned that the industrial nature of the Rivian project would set a precedent for nearby landowners hoping to capitalize off their properties.

“Since it’s industrial right next to it, does it set a precedent?” asked von Hanstein. “Even though it wasn’t rezoned in the county because the state superseded this thing, could it still set a precedent?”

“Yes,” answered Jarrell.

To stave off some of those requests, Jarrell believes the moratorium will buy the county some time while finalizing the comp plan, which will identify appropriate zoning recommendations for the surrounding parcels of land.

“A lot of people are knocking on our doors,” said Jarrell when he first proposed the moratorium six months ago. “We want to stop them from rezoning until we really get our arms around what is happening out there with Rivian.”

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