A school board member said he wants to know now where future residential areas will be rather than continuing county governing bodies’ longtime practice of not working together to plan the best locations for new subdivisions.
Jason Anavitarte said past county commissioners and school board members did not do “proactive planning” for schools which led to unforeseen rapid growth.
“Everyone in our community deserves to know what is the plan” for future residential growth countywide, he said.
“Knowing the amount of land that is still undeveloped that is poised to become homes is scary and should concern every citizen in Paulding County,” he said..
“I will fight to ensure we create the best opportunity of success for our schools down the road by addressing issues now, not kicking the can down the road like some of my predecessors have done,” Anavitarte said.
A current school board member who was also Anavitarte’s predecessor on the board declined comment. Another former board member did not return an email for comment.
Anavitarte said the Paulding school board does not control where new housing is built “nor how the growth patterns are created” because the Paulding County Commission is the sole governing body empowered to approve land use zoning.
“That is the challenge we face,” Anavitarte said.
He said Paulding’s zoning classifications are structured in a way that will lead to development of more housing than businesses — the opposite of what is needed because county homeowners bear a heavier burden for funding basic services than neighboring counties with larger commercial and industrial bases.
For example, the county still allows use of the Planned Residential Development (PRD) zoning classification, he said.
Area homeowners in recent years heavily criticized use of PRD zoning in part because it allowed too much housing density.
The Paulding County Commission in 2018 voted to stop accepting new requests for PRD zoning but allowed land already zoned PRD to continue under that zoning if at least 50 acres in size.
Anavitarte also said some developers are “trying to throw up neighborhoods within yards of industrial and criminal justice facilities” — a reference in part to a recently-approved request for a rezoning for a new subdivision near an industrial area adjacent to Dallas’ northern city limits.
Piedmont Residential LLC requested the rezoning for a tract near the state’s minimum-security Patten Probation Detention Center which houses probationers, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
The county commission voted July 23 to approve the request for the rezoning of 70 acres from industrial to residential for construction of 113 single-family homes on Old County Farm Road.
“We are creating bigger infrastructure and school district problems if we allow those things to happen,” Anavitarte said before the Piedmont plan was approved.
The developer agreed to delay the start of construction for a year, which he said meant no students would live in the new subdivision until at least the 2021-2022 school year. It also would allow two years for construction of a planned addition to Moses Middle School.
The Moses addition was included in a facilities funding plan the school board approved July 9 to accompany a resolution asking voters to renew a 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for education in November.
The facilities plan gave highest priority to construction of a new $32 million middle school and $12 million for additions to Moses Middle and Roberts and Russom elementary schools.
Anavitarte said he knows some residents have called for redistricting students from crowded northern schools to less crowded ones in other parts of the county to avoid the need for the construction.
However, such an action would eventually spread the problem of overcrowding to the receiving schools as well, he said.
He said he supports the facilities plan because “growth is rapid everywhere.”
“This is a countywide solution,” Anavitarte said. “We also have older buildings in the southern part of the county that have facility needs that need to be addressed sometime in the close, near future.
“The new middle school is only one component of the plan, as the plan includes additions and improvements in the central, west and southern areas of the county also,” Anavitarte said. “We have to look at everything in its totality.”
The new middle school would replace McClure Middle School, whose building would become part of fast-growing North Paulding High School.
McClure is adjacent to North Paulding on a three-school complex off Harmony Grove Church Road about a mile east of Ga. Hwy. 61.