Unified Development Code (April 1, 2023)

Update of the Land Use & Development Codes

Updated 10/13/2022

Welcome to the official project webpage for the Unified Development Code Update! Use this page to review the most up-to-date information about the project, submit comments to our project email, and get information on public involvement opportunities.


The UDC is now in its final form. Below are links to the final adoption schedule and the final version of the entire UDC

Previous Happenings

  • The UDC is now in its final form. The Planning Commission discussed and considered the final version of the UDC during their public hearing held on March 16, 2022. After the public hearing, the Planning Commission recommended to the Board of Commissioners that the UDC be approved.
  • The Board of County Commissioners discussed and considered the final version of the UDC during their public hearing held on April 5, 2022. After the public hearing was closed, the Board tabled their vote until the April 19, 2022 commission meeting.
  • The UDC is now in its final form. The Planning Commission will discuss and consider the final version of the UDC at their regular meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 beginning at 7 p.m. The Board of Commissioners will discuss and consider the final version of the UDC at their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 beginning at 6:30 p.m. If the UDC is approved, the Board will select an effective date.
  • These two meetings are public hearings where the public is invited to attend and participate in the discussions. Both meetings will be held at the County Courthouse, 104 N. College Street, Room 223 in Hamilton. If any questions or concerns, please contact the Community Development Department at 706-628-4700.

"Big Idea" Meeting

A “Big Idea” Meeting was held October 22nd at 6:00pm in the Harris County Library.  The planning team discussed key issues and needs that were identified through public engagement efforts that have occurred so far and discussed significant new concepts or approaches that have been proposed for inclusion in the Unified Development Code. This public meeting’s goal was to provide guidance and clarity to confirm how major issues should be addressed in the UDC.

Public Community Workshops

Community Workshops were held September 22nd and 23rd at the Harris County Community Center to present project information and continue identifying key issues, needs, and ideas related to the land development code update. In addition, a virtual meeting platform can be accessed through the “Virtual Meeting Room” link below, which provides the same materials that were available for review at the in-person workshops. As an alternative to the virtual meeting room, you can also view meeting materials in the links below.

In addition to reviewing the public meeting materials in the Virtual Meeting room, you can also click to the links below to view the same materials that were presented at the meeting.

The scanned images (see links below) represent some of the feedback received at the in-person meetings related to key issues, needs, and ideas for the UDC Update identified thus far. A preliminary list of issues, needs, and ideas was presented on the posters. Participants were asked to put a green sticker beside items they ‘strongly agree’ with, a yellow sticker beside items they ‘somewhat agree’ with, and a red sticker beside items they ‘disagree’ with. In addition, they were asked to add a comment on a sticky note or comment form if they wanted to add an issue, need, or idea to the list. Note that these items presented are key issues, needs, and ideas and do NOT represent proposed changes at this time.

Focus Group Summary

A Focus Group is a small group of stakeholders representing a variety of fields and perspectives that meet to discuss particular issues/needs related to the County’s zoning and development regulations. Participants include representatives from a variety of County organizations (Board of Health, County School System, Development Authority, local banks, etc.); County Departments & Boards (Public Works, Roads, Harris County & Columbus Water Works, etc.); land owners and business owners that deal with certain land uses; and the development sector (home builders, developers, land surveyors, engineers, etc.). These small group settings enable exchange of information and ideas from different perspectives and are effective in obtaining detailed input from those with topic familiarity in a quick and efficient manner.

Project “Kick-Off” Presentation

A Power Point presentation consisting of project goals and schedules was presented during the March 3, 2020 County Commission meeting.

Public Outreach and Involvement Plan

The Unified Development Code Update process is important to Harris County. Public involvement is a critical component and will take place throughout the project.

This Public Involvement Plan (PIP) describes the outreach and engagement activities that will be implemented throughout the process. The PIP contains tailored strategies and communication objectives to be conducted during the progression of the update. This is a “living” document that will be evaluated periodically and adjusted as necessary to maintain its effectiveness as the project progresses.

Project Initiation

A project coordination meeting was held on Thursday, January 9, 2020 with Wood representatives (Lee Walton and Anna Johnson) and county staff members (County Manager, County Clerk, and Community Development Director) to confirm project goals, schedules, invoicing, and other procedural aspects of the project. A driving tour of the southern part of the county along the SR 315 corridor also occurred. One-on-one listening sessions were held on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 with Wood representatives (Lee Walton and Anna Johnson) and the five county commissioners for Wood to obtain the elected officials’ views, concerns, and preferences of the project. Each session lasted about 45 minutes.


An initial meeting was held on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 with Wood representatives (Lee Walton and Anna Johnson) and the steering committee (County Manager, County Clerk, Community Development Director, Planning Commission members John Britt and Chris Lintner, and Development Authority member Craig Greenhaw) for Wood to obtain the steering committee’s views, concerns, and preferences of the project. This meeting lasted about 60 minutes.

Approval of Wood Contract

Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Wood on December 17, 2019 to update the county’s land use and development codes.

Project Description

Harris County is in the process of updating the zoning and development regulations to create a Unified Development Code, which will house these regulations in a single, user-friendly document. The sections below provide an overview of Unified Development Codes and zoning regulations to give an idea of the type of codes that will be addressed during this update.

What is a Unified Development Code?

A Unified Development Code (UDC) is a local policy instrument that combines traditional zoning and development (subdivision) regulations, along with other desired county regulations, such as floodplain and stormwater management, sign regulations and design guidelines into one document. By combining all of these regulations in a single document, a UDC is intended to streamline and coordinate the development process of permits and approvals for development projects by removing inconsistencies and eliminating outdated policies. The required permits, processes, and regulations for the development process are outlined in one place, making it easier for developers, the public, and public entities to understand the requirements. Along with the compiling of regulations and policies, UDCs use clear, consistent language and definitions, with many illustrations and tables and easy-to-read formats to further help stakeholders understand the regulations.

What is Zoning?

In general, zoning is a system of land use regulation which designates the permitted or prohibited uses of land based on location.  Every property in the County is assigned a zoning classification that identifies how the property can be used.  Zoning is a means of ensuring that the land uses of a community are properly situated in relation to one another, providing adequate space for each type of development including:


  • The use of buildings and land
  • The height and size of buildings and other structures
  • The area of a lot which may be occupied and the size of required open spaces
  • The density (the number of units per area of land) of development
  • Standards for streetscape/landscape and architectural features
Zoning is also used to implement the Comprehensive Plan and ensure designated land uses are aligned between the two processes.  The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range policy document used to guide future growth and development.   Zoning is delegated to Harris County through the State of Georgia Constitution and is governed by the Zoning Procedures Law O.C.G.A. Chapter 36-66.