BOC ob­jects to Por­terdale an­nex­a­tion

Six­teen acres lo­cated near by­pass

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Rachel Oswald

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers has ob­jected to a pro­posed an­nex­a­tion by the city of Por­terdale of ap­prox­i­mately 16 acres lo­cated on the Cov­ing­ton By­pass.

The BOC is ob­ject­ing to the an­nex­a­tion on the grounds that not enough in­for­ma­tion was sub­mit­ted to the county in the city’s an­nex­a­tion pro­posal. The BOC passed a res­o­lu­tion ob­ject­ing to the an­nex­a­tion at their bi-monthly meet­ing on Aug. 21.

Ac­cord­ing to Jenny Carter, an at­tor­ney with County At­tor­ney Tommy Craig’s of­fice, the BOC de­cided to ob­ject be­cause there was only a lim­ited time frame dur­ing which Ge­or­gia law would al­low the county to raise an ob­jec­tion once an an­nex­a­tion had been of­fi­cially pro­posed.

Ge­or­gia law al­lows a pe­riod of 20 work­ing days for a county to state any “bona fide land use clas­si­fi­ca­tion is­sues” ac­cord­ing to the res­o­lu­tion passed by the BOC.

“Ba­si­cally it’s a re­quest for more in­for­ma­tion; the ini­tial thing that Por­terdale sent didn’t have a lot of in­for­ma­tion,” said Carter of the county’s ob­jec­tion. “At this point we just felt there wasn’t enough in­for­ma­tion com­ing from Por­terdale.”

In their ob­jec­tion, the county raised con­cerns that the an­nex­a­tion and re­zon­ing to gen­eral com­mer­cial of 15.8 acres of land on the Cov­ing­ton By­pass would trans­form the road “into a com­mer­cial artery for medium to high-in­ten­sity com­mer­cial uses which is di­rectly con­trary to the in­tended use of the by­pass as a thor­ough­fare for traf­fic.”

White­fish LLC owns the 15.8 acres in ques­tion which are ad­ja­cent to Mid­dle Ridge El­e­men­tary School. The de­vel­op­ment com­pany is propos­ing to de­velop the land as a re­tail cen­ter with 87,800 square feet of re­tail space spread out across three build­ings.

White­fish LLC also owns 31 acres of land across the street from the 15.8 acres which was an­nexed by Por­terdale two years ear­lier ac­cord­ing to at­tor­ney Frank Turner Jr. who rep­re­sents White­fish. The 31 acres are al­ready zoned gen­eral com­mer­cial and are be­ing de­vel­oped as a mixed use de­vel­op­ment with a com­mer­cial com­po­nent. The two projects are be­ing de­vel­oped sep­a­rately.

Ac­cord­ing to the res­o­lu­tion, the county is con­cerned that the pro­posed com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment of the 15.8 acres would re­quire ex­tended and widened roads as well as ex­panded city ser­vices such as po­lice, fire, wa­ter and sewer.

The county is also con­cerned that it can­not fully es­ti­mate the po­ten­tial im­pacts on wa­ter­sheds, prop­erty val­ues, neigh­bor­ing resi- dents and aes­thet­ics.

“The pro­posed com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment’s traf­fic would sig­nif­i­cantly im­pair pub­lic safety and hin­der the flow of traf­fic on ad­ja­cent roads, in par­tic­u­lar the Cov­ing­ton By­pass, which was built to be a pub­lic through­way, not a spring­board for com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment,” reads the res­o­lu­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the res­o­lu­tion, the county will with­draw its ob­jec­tions to the an­nex­a­tion if Por­terdale adopts wa­ter­shed pro­tec­tion reg­u­la­tions sub­stan­tially like those of the county’s as a con­di­tion of the city’s ap­proval of the pro­posed com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment and if the city pro­vides the county with de­tailed plans, stud­ies, maps and en­gi­neer­ing re­ports which demon­strate how timely and prop­erly funded im­prove­ments to the lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture would ad­e­quately sup­port the in­creased in­ten­sity of the an­nexed land.

De­spite the strong lan­guage of the res­o­lu­tion, county of­fi­cials and Por­terdale of­fi­cials ap­pear to be fairly con­fi­dent that the city will be able to re­spond ad­e­quately to the county’s con­cerns and that the county will re­move its op­posi- tion to the an­nex­a­tion.

Por­terdale City Man­ager Tom Fox said that he was not sur­prised that the county ob­jected to the an­nex­a­tion.

“They’ve got cri­te­ria that they’ve got to fol­low as far as county plan­ning and land use,” Fox said. “We un­der­stand that they have some con­cerns and we’re happy to work with them and ad­dress any is­sues that they might have. We will start our re­view and have a re­sponse back to them but right now we haven’t pre­pared any­thing yet.

“I think that they’ve got an ex­cel­lent plan­ning de­part­ment and they’re ask­ing good ques­tions,” con­tin­ued Fox. “I think that re­flects wisely on New­ton County gov­ern­ment to ask for more in­for­ma­tion. We feel con­fi­dent that we can an­swer all of their ques­tions and re­solve any is­sues.”

Added Turner, “We’re hope­ful that we can al­lay any con­cerns that the county may have. The sales tax gen­er­ated by this com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment is go­ing to be ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial to the city of Por­terdale’s bud­get go­ing forth.”

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