New Coweta homeowners should no longer be stuck with muddy back yards under changes approved by the Coweta County Board of Commissioners.
The changes, which require builders to be responsible for the full “stabilization” of back yards as well as front yards, take effect with building permits issued March 1.
Georgia’s Erosion and Sedimentation Control rules require “full stabilization” of disturbed areas before a land disturbance permit can be closed out. Traditionally, builders put down sod in the front yard, but simply “seed and straw” backyards. If that backyard grass didn’t thrive, the homeowner was stuck with it, though technically it was the builder’s responsibility.
In September, Coweta’s director of Development and Engineering, Tod Handley, appeared before the commissioners to talk about the issue.
The law requires “final stabilization,” and seeding and strawing doesn’t meet that requirement. Instead, 100 percent of the disturbed area must have permanent plant material growing at 70 percent density.
Handley’s department planned to start enforcing the rules on Oct. 1, but the commissioners decided to delay action. Commissioner Rodney Brooks, who works in the construction industry, said at the time that he had been getting calls from builders and developers who were concerned about the change.
Handley said his department is recommending to builders that they plant the grass a few weeks before they plan to get a certificate of occupancy instead of a day or two before. But in the winter, getting desirable grass to grow can be difficult, if not impossible.
Under the plan approved Tuesday night, if all the disturbed land isn’t fully stabilized at the time a certificate of occupancy is issued, the builder must post a bond in an amount sufficient to install sod in the area, if necessary. The builder also must agree to continue erosion and sedimentation maintenance on the site until it is fully stabilized.
Brooks suggested making the change effective immediately, but Handley suggested giving builders a bit of warning. Someone who was planning to pull building permits in the next day or two could have a budget already planned out that wouldn’t provide for the bond or extra time, Handley said.
“I appreciate Commissioner Brooks and anybody else that was involved bringing this to our attention,” said Commissioner Tim Lassetter. “Mr. Handley and his staff are just trying to protect those who may not have a clue about things like this.”