Paulding County zoning restrictions impact affordable homes.

A slap in the face of home affordability, the Paulding County Commission has taken the last zoning category that allowed affordable housing and made it impossible to build affordable homes in Paulding County. This comes on the heels of the Paulding County Commission passing a moratorium on lift stations last month.

According to home builders, the new zoning change adds at least $200,000 per house due to the increased lot size and newly required exterior finishes. According to Paulding County officials, this could affect over 10,000 homes that are zoned but unbuilt in Paulding County Planned Residential Development Districts (PRDs). This new zoning does not affect areas zoned Res2 or agricultural.

For instance, affordable homes in Paulding County, currently priced in the $300,000s, could soon be priced in the $500,000s to meet the new zoning requirements. In one affected neighborhood, homes are currently priced from the $600,000s; with these changes, homes will start at $800,000.

Off the record, one Paulding County home builder said, “The biggest issue is the uncertainty of the lots in PRDs where we are actively building and in the process of recording plats or have future recordings coming up. What will they allow us to build? Are we grandfathered or are we not?”

Industry insiders say they have never seen anything like this. Home builders first became aware of the potential zoning changes on Monday, April 8 and had calls with the county that day and the following day preceding the vote. The Paulding County Commission basically threw down the gauntlet and voted on Tuesday, April 9 without commentary. This move affects thousands of lots that have been zoned since around the time of the Great Recession in 2007. These home sites are currently 8,000-square-foot lots that will become 12,000-square-foot lots, and it is the homebuyer who will bear the burden of the price increases.

When asked about the recent changes, Jim Van Kirk, Executive Vice President of sales and marketing for Smith Douglas Homes, said, “Paulding County provides the quality-of-life essentials that our customers are striving for. Our past and present communities have enjoyed strong demand, and we hope to be welcomed to continue to provide opportunities for new home ownership to those seeking to stay in or move to Paulding County.”

According to Rocket Mortgage, the average home price in metro Atlanta is now $419,716. Combine home prices with interest rates of 7% and above, and the market is challenging for homebuyers. At a time when potential homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, are struggling to find affordable homes, Paulding County basically says they are not welcome.

Changes passed yesterday (April 10, 2024) to the Paulding County Planned Residential Development District (PRD) include:

Building Design

Craftsman, traditional or any other standard architectural style may be utilized throughout a PRD development. Homes shall be constructed with brick, stone or masonry siding. Brick and/or stone shall constitute no less than 70 percent (house front and sides) of the materials used with accents of masonry horizontal, vertical or shake and shingle siding for each building elevation. Homes must incorporate the design standards listed below:

  1. Covered front porch, including but not limited to covered entry; and
  2. Front stoops and/or steps made of rock, brick or other material as approved by the Community Development Department; and
  3. Hip, gable and/or shed roof lines, including minimum 12-inch eaves on all sides; and
  4. The front elevation must include roof pitches of 8:12 or greater, main body roof must be 6:12 or greater; and
  5. Side entry garage.

Color elevations of the front, sides and rear of all typical units, including proposed exterior building materials, building heights and any other structures, shall be submitted to the Community Development Department to be reviewed for compliance prior to the issuance of building permits.

Buffer Requirement

All PRD developments shall include the following minimum buffers:

  1. A minimum 25-foot undisturbed or planted buffer must be provided along the perimeter of any subdivision development or else otherwise approved by the Community Development Director for necessary intrusions such as required infrastructure, stormwater management and/or future street connectivity points. The buffer shall conform to the requirements of Section 240-140 of this UDO.
  2. A 20 ft. wide, “no access” easement shall be required along the right of way of arterial and collector streets. (State or County Roads, Parkways, Boulevards excluding subdivision streets.) The easement shall provide for utilities, slopes and drainage and shall be continuous except for the intersection with another public street. The “no access” easement shall contain a minimum of a 10 ft. deep landscape strip along the edge of the easement that is abutting residential lots. The landscape strip shall be continuous except for 35 ft. wide clear zones adjacent to the right of way of each intersecting street in order to maintain visibility at intersections.

Unlike most zoning changes, this change affects everything moving forward, even previously approved communities, unless they have an approved preliminary plat. In effect, this will stop all new homebuilding in Paulding County.

We’d love to know what you think.  Please comment!

7 thoughts on “Paulding County Votes NO to Affordable Homes”

  1. You guys should write an article like this for every county in Atlanta. They are trying to kill affordable housing while claiming they support it. We have many examples.

  2. A few counties have made pro-housing changes, but overall most have not. Feel free to send ideas my way!

  3. I live in Paulding County, it has always been an affordable county. Is no longer a stepchild of its more affluent peers. The commission is raising the bar on construction standards and zoning, even with those changes Paulding will remain affordable and home construction will continue.

  4. We built what will be our last home in Paulding and moved here in 2021. We left Cobb, where I spent most of my life, to get away from residential development before infrastructure. I applaud our County Commission for not allowing residential developers to ruin this county. Our schools are already over capacity. Our roads can’t handle the traffic. Paulding needs infrastructure and commercial development before we need cookie cutter houses.

  5. This article is a bunch of non-sense. The PRD category was created NOT FOR AFFORDABLE housing but for the opposite. It was for higher end homes with amenities and design standards. The Commission did the right thing here to restore the original intent of this zoning category. There is plenty of R-2 zoned acreage in the county where individuals can build more affordable houses.

  6. I’m all for higher standards in the homes they are building. Maybe it will discourage these Wallstreet private equity firms from being able to buy whole neighborhoods from builders. Affordability doesn’t start with design standards, it starts with our federal government not spending so much money and causing inflation. That isn’t the county’s fault.

  7. I am so proud with every single thing this commission has voted in!!! It’s about time we have a commission that is working to protect the integrity and safety and all the other sub par issues that come with no infrastructure!!!!!

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