Words from the county chair­man

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE -

New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Chair­man Keith El­lis an­swered four ques­tions about the 2050 Plan as part of an on­go­ing se­ries of gen­eral ques­tions with county and city lead­ers. These were so per­ti­nent to Thurs­day’s 2050 Plan pub­lic hear­ing they are in­cluded here:

1. Why is the county par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 2050 Plan?

For far too long un­con­trolled devel­op­ment in New­ton County put a huge bur­den on our qual­ity of life and our bud­get and lead to an un­bal­anced tax di­gest. As an old ed­u­ca­tor, I un­der­stand the im­por­tance of plan­ning. Surely plan­ning is an area that all of us can agree on. Around 2005 - ing to­gether to build that plan. To­day that plan is re­ferred to as the 2050 Plan. This 2050 Plan is based on the premise which es­ti­mates in the year 2050 we could have a pop­u­la­tion of over 350,000. There­fore, all of us can be­lieve for our chil­dren’s sake we must con­tinue for­ward with a plan.

2. What is the time­line for adop­tion?

Speak­ing for my­self only, an adop­tion date does not ex­ist. In­put from the pub­lic, pa­tience and a - sues will de­ter­mine that date. It is im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve that the adop­tion will be any time this year.

3. Based on pub­lic com­ment, what are some items that I would sup­port chang­ing in the next ad­di­tion?

I re­ceived a copy of the cur­rent ver­sion in early June. Some con­cerns quickly arose; the 10- and 20-acre min­i­mums, the ar­chi­tec­tural guide­lines and build­ing stan­dard re­stric­tions and the abil­ity to have ad­e­quate staff to en­force those re­stric­tions, bal­anc­ing in­di­vid­ual prop­erty rights, and an ab­sence of a pro­vi­sion for child lots. These are all ar­eas that need fur­ther study be­fore our board ever has these or­di­nances on our agenda.

4. What is the cit­i­zens’ role in help­ing to shape a rea­son­able plan that every­one will be will­ing to take own­er­ship of, and what about a ref­er­en­dum?

Cer­tainly my con­stituents’ ideas are wel­come. Our le­gal team has said that per Ge­or­gia’s zon­ing zon­ing or­di­nance such as the 2050 Plan. We will con­tinue to seek pub­lic in­put through­out this long process. Com­mon ground and so­lu­tions can­not be reached with­out your help. The same frus­tra­tions that both you and I feel must be­come sug­ges­tions and ideas to im­prove these or­di­nances. We have to re­mind our­selves to con­tinue to be even-handed and even-keeled. I in­tend to put to­gether a cit­i­zens’ panel to help me bet­ter un­der­stand how a pub­lic hear­ing for cit­i­zens to pro­vide feed­back. Emails, phone calls and per­sonal vis­its are al­ways wel­come. To­gether, we will work through this long and some­times te­dious process to de­velop a plan that you will want to take own­er­ship of. This plan is not a sprint, it is a marathon.

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