MILTON, Ga. — Milton is considering a special zoning district that could incentivize farm owners to keep their land for equestrian use.
The action follows a growing trend of equestrian properties being subdivided for residential lots. The city’s Planning Commission discussed the issue at its Nov. 20 meeting with representatives from planning firm TSW.
“In the last many years, the city has been losing its large lots and horse farms,” said Community Development Director Parag Agrawal. “So our goal is what incentives, what allowance which can we give in our zoning regulations that can promote the equestrian character of city of Milton?”
More than 80 percent of Milton is zoned AG-1, rural residential. The equestrian district would not be specific to an area in the city, but would be a zoning district like AG-1 and could be piecemealed throughout Milton
While the proposed district is still up in the air, Caleb Racicot of TSW did outline some of the regulations and benefits the zoning could include.
Racicot said equestrian zoning could require larger lot sizes than AG-1, which has a minimum 1-acre lot requirement. It could also require buffers between residential properties and farms.
“We see one of the main weaknesses of your code as it stands today is that it requires a buffer for residential that is next to commercial, it requires a buffer from commercial next to residential or commercial to equestrian, but no buffer from residential to equestrian,” Racicot said.
If the city moves ahead with this idea, he said, it could require residential developers to add buffers within their site plan.
With the city’s high property valuations, Racicot said the city could explore working with Fulton County to lower property taxes for land within the equestrian district.
Racicot said they will also be diving into ways the zoning could enhance the city’s Transfer of Development Rights program, which allows property owners the ability to waive the right to develop land in exchange for the ability to build at higher densities in another area of the city.
If the city adopts an equestrian zoning district, Milton could allow property owners to rezone their AG-1 properties on a volunteer basis.
“We are recommending rather than proactively zoning horse farms without homeowners’ consent, the city should look at adopting the code and then have a voluntary call for rezoning,” Racicot said.
Milton could have an open period where landowners might ask for their properties to be rezoned, and the city could waive any rezoning fees, he said.
“It would be completely voluntary, and there would be no filing fees for the owners,” Racicot said.
Consultants with TSW have met with the city’s Equestrian Committee, and the city will be gathering feedback from residents to draft the proposed district’s requirements.
Racicot said a draft of the ordinance could be presented early next year.