Harris County residents worry rezoning land will impact school system

Harris County residents worry rezoning land will impact school system

HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. (WTVM) - Residents in Harris County are working to inform others about the possible impacts a rezoning proposal could have throughout the county if it’s passed by the County Commission.

Although the county’s planning commission denied the proposal, the ultimate decision is left up to the County Commission. Residents here hope their concerns were heard at Wednesday’s meeting, and commissioners will take into account the impact this project could have on schools.

“I know Harris County is pretty full now as far as school systems," Brad Holloway said. "We’re limited. We have one middle school, one high school, and I know we need to grow as far as what we have here now, so to take on that influx of kids is going to be hard.”

Harris County has seven schools, with roughly 5,300 students. A proposal to rezone land on Grey Rock Road and build nearly 200 homes could possibly bring in 300 new students.

Residents say schools are already close to capacity, and they would need new construction, new teachers and more buses to accommodate the influx of students.

“The state doesn’t let us build on a projection," Harris County School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Justin Finney said. "They let us build on our average growth over the past five years, so that’s one place that rapid student growth really implicates us.”

One of the managing partners with the development group, David Erickson, said if Harris County responds to zoning proposals because of school implications then they need to stop all development. Officials said this project is not expected to pop-up overnight, if approved.

“But as the developer said, it’s going to be spread out over probably 8 to 10 years," County Manager Randy Dowling said. "So there will not be any major immediate impact, it’s going to be spread out over multiple years.”

“Right now, we’re talking about one subdivision," Holloway noted. "But if this is allowed, it’s going to continue that path and there’s going to be more and more, so you’re not just going to have the influx of 300 possible more students, you’re going to have thousands of students coming in at a faster rate that I don’t believe Harris County is going to be able to keep up with, as far as education.”

A meeting is scheduled for September 3 where the County Commission is expected to vote. The meeting has been moved to Harris County High School to accommodate a large crowd.

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