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Porterdale behind on land plan

PORTERDALE -- A plan that is already more than two years overdue may now take another six months to complete City Council members learned Thursday night.

Porterdale's updated comprehensive land-use plan has been in the works for months, but the consultant hired to do the work has apparently failed to fulfill the contract. The city will now seek proposals from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission and the Fanning Institute based at the University of Georgia.

Interim City Manager Frank Sherrill told council members Thursday that Porterdale's comprehensive planning process is "at ground zero."

"Anything we've done so far doesn't count ... because it wasn't handled right," Sherrill said.

The plan could take four to six months to complete, Sherrill said.

Porterdale has paid about $6,000 toward its comprehensive plan so far, Mayor Bobby Hamby said.

The city will now decide if it will attempt to get a partial refund of its money from consultant Chris McGahee.

"According to the contract, it's already passed the terms of the contract, so getting out of it is not a problem," Hamby said. "It is just whether or not we look at trying to get any reimbursement. He's entitled to (payment for) what he has actually provided, but I'm not sure if he's provided $6,000 worth."

Hamby said he believes McGahee got behind on the plan when he took a full-time job with the city of Duluth.

"But we've got to move," Hamby said. "This has taken way too long."

An updated land-use plan approved by the state Department of Community Affairs is a requirement in order for local governments to be eligible to receive certain types of state funding.

Failure to adopt a plan by the required date, which was February 2008, results in disqualification for state-managed financial assistance, according to Jon West, regional planner for the DCA.

The comprehensive plan is designed to address a 20-year window and covers a wide range of topics such as land use, economic development, transportation, public safety and stormwater management. Plans are required to be updated a minimum of every 10 years, with some components updated more frequently.

Completed plans are submitted to the Regional Commission and the DCA for review and approval.