County plans new cor­ri­dor

The Covington News - - Front Page - GABRIEL KHOULI Staff Re­porter

County of­fi­cials view the Salem Road cor­ri­dor as a com­mer­cial driver and fu­ture home to its own pseudo-city, and they’ve em­barked on an in-depth plan­ning process to clar­ify that vi­sion,

County of­fi­cials view the Salem Road cor­ri­dor as a com­mer­cial driver and fu­ture home to its own pseudo-city, and they’ve em­barked on an in-depth plan­ning process to clar­ify that vi­sion.

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously Tues­day to pay The Col­lab­o­ra­tive Firm, an At­lanta-based plan­ning group, $40,450 to help de­velop a zon­ing over­lay for the Salem Road cor­ri­dor, from the Rock­dale County bor­der to Ga. High­way 81.

The over­lay will plant out fu­ture de­vel­op­ment by iden­ti­fy­ing how fu­ture de­vel­op­ment should take place. For ex­am­ple, cer­tain ar­eas will re­main purely res­i­den­tial, while other ar­eas will be com­mer­cial or mixed-use com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial. In addi- tion, the por­tion of Salem Road be­tween Kirk­land and Brown Bridge will be a town cen­ter, an area that is sim­i­lar to a city in terms of its den­sity and com­mer­cial mix, but is not of­fi­cially in­cor­po­rated.

As part of its con­tract, The Col­lab­o­ra­tive Firm will fa­cil­i­tate and hold sev­eral meet­ings with area res­i­dents, busi­ness own­ers and other stake­hold­ers to gather their opin­ions and vi­sions for the fu­ture of the cor­ri­dor. The firm will also col­lect data about the area, hold meet­ings with county of­fi­cials, at­tend public hear­ings and cre­ate a final doc­u­ment.

The county com­pleted a sim­i­lar plan for the Al­mon/ Crow­ell Road cor­ri­dor in March 2010.

Com­mis­sioner Mort Ewing said Tues­day that this is the third time the county has con­sid­ered an over­lay dis­trict for Salem Road, in­clud­ing an orig­i­nal at­tempt in the late 90s.

“I think that had we been suc­cess­ful on the other two oc­ca­sions, we would not have some of the prob­lems that we are deal­ing with out there at this point,” Ewing said. “I’m pleased that we ap­pear to be very near the point of mov­ing for­ward with this over­lay.”

Scott Sirotkin, di­rec­tor of the depart­ment of de­vel­op­ment ser­vices, said Tues­day the plan is to start work on the over­lay next month and to work for eight months.

The Salem Road town cen­ter is one of four such cen­ters planned in the county, not in­clud­ing the Cov­ing­ton. The oth­ers will be de­vel­oped along Al­mon Road, Oak Hill Road and at the Hub Junc­tion, the in­ter­sec­tion of Ga. High­way 11 and U.S. High­way 278. The idea be­hind the town cen­ters is to di­rect fu­ture growth and de­vel­op­ment into spe­cific, dense ar­eas, so that the ma­jor­ity of the county can be re­served for agri­cul­ture and con­ser­va­tion.

In other board news, the health in­spec­tion of­fice in the New­ton County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, 1113 Usher St., will re­duce its hours by 50 per­cent and will only be open 2.5 days a week, be­cause of a lack of de­mand, said Chair­man Kathy Mor­gan Tues­day. If busi­ness picks up, the of­fice could be opened full time.

The board also ap­proved seek­ing bids to re­pair High Point For­est Drive, which has been dam­aged be­cause of a fail­ing re­ten­tion pond that caused a sink­hole.

The county hoped to re­pair the dam­age last year, but all bids came in too high at around $200,000, while the bud­get is only $100,000. A new de­sign has been cre­ated, and the board voted to bid out the project once again with the hope bids are within the ap­proved bud­get.

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