A report on multifamily housing in Columbia County should be ready for review next month.
The county's planning and engineering departments were tasked with preparing the report after county commissioners placed a moratorium on multifamily housing rezonings in 2009. The ban was extended in June and again in September to give officials time to review the report.
Several amendments were initiated Thursday by planning commissioners.
The study, which primarily focuses on apartments and townhouses, revealed that more than 2,000 apartments are built or under construction in the county, and property is zoned to allow 1,300 more.
Now the county has more than 2,300 townhouses built or under construction, and more than 1,500 townhouses could be constructed.
The study compared Columbia County's housing situation with that of other counties in Georgia with a similar population and demographics.
As a result of the findings, county staff offered several recommendations for officials to review, including that the county increase the number of new apartments by 2.7 percent, or 50 units, each year through 2015.
The report states that new apartment developments should be located within nodes and townhouses should either be built inside nodes or along arterial roads.
Staff indicated that land currently zoned for apartments should remain at 14 units per acre. For future apartment zonings, they noted that lowering the maximum density does not necessarily limit the number of units in the county.
"Lowering the maximum density could instead create less-dense developments covering more acreage," the report stated. "A more effective method to control apartment growth is to approve A-R (apartment-residential) rezoning applications more selectively."
Creating a new district called A-R10, which allows 10 units per acre for future apartment rezonings, was recommended instead.
The density for townhouse developments should remain at eight units per acre and should be changed in planned unit developments to allow 12 units per acre, according to the study.
The report stated that in 2005 the number of single-family homes in the county had remained at about 79 percent for 25 years. The number of apartment units has been steady at about 3 percent.
During that same time, the number of townhomes increased to about 8 percent, and manufactured homes decreased to 8 percent.
The multifamily housing study will be included in the county's partial update to the growth management, which will be presented to the planning commission and board of commissioners in November.
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