County dis­cusses devel­op­ment of com­mu­nity im­pact, ceme­tery zon­ing

The Covington News - - LOCAL - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

The New­ton County plan­ning com­mis­sion has been asked to look at two items that have come since the board of com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved a mora­to­rium on places of wor­ship Aug. 16.

That mora­to­rium, which ex­pired on Sept. 20, was put into place to give staff an op­por­tu­nity to re­view zon­ing or­di­nances after a pro­posed mosque was an­nounced to be de­vel­oped on high­way 162 and County Line Road.

New­ton County Devel­op­ment Ser­vices will pro­vide the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers with rec­om­men­da­tions to the county’s zon­ing or­di­nance in Novem­ber.

County Man­ager Lloyd Kerr briefed the BOC on revi- sions that have been brought up by staff at the board’s most re­cent meet­ing.

Among the revi­sions is a new zon­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tion for devel­op­ments of com­mu­nity im­pact.

“One of the things that be­came very clear dur­ing this is that the pub­lic had not been en­gaged, and the board, as well had not been en­gaged,” Kerr said dur­ing his county man­ager re­port to the BOC Tues­day. “Those projects only re­quire ad­min­is­tra­tive re­view and were granted per­mits and ap­provals through staff re­view and the ap­proval process.”

The devel­op­ments of com­mu­nity im­pact were bro­ken down into three cat­e­gories: place of pub­lic assem­bly, such as places of wor­ship or a the­ater; large scale devel­op­ments that are com­mer­cial; and large scale devel­op­ments that are res­i­den­tial.

For places of pub­lic assem­bly and large com­mer­cial devel­op­ments, if a project en­com­passes four acres or more or a struc­ture of more than 10,000 feet, it will re­quire ap­proval. Also re­quir­ing ap­proval will be a res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment of 50 acres or more or 100 or more dwelling units.

Also dur­ing the BOC’s Oct. 4 meet­ing, District 1 Com­mis­sioner John Dou­glas asked the county’s plan­ning com­mis­sion to re­view a ceme­tery or­di­nance that would re­quire a wa­ter proof cas­ket or vault for burial in the county.

Dou­glas pre­sented the burial or­di­nances from Ma­conBibb County, which en­acted the or­di­nance in re­sponse to flood­ing that oc­curred on Rose Hill Ceme­tery in the early 1990s.

The re­quest to re­view the county’s burial or­di­nance comes less than two months after a pro­posed mosque and Is­lamic ceme­tery in New­ton County were made pub­lic. Ac­cord­ing to the Is­lamic cus­toms, the dead is to be buried “green” or with­out a cas­ket or vault.

Dou­glas stated Tues­day that he brought Macon-Bibb County’s or­di­nance to staff’s at­ten­tion “to pro­tect the health and safety of New­ton County cit­i­zens.”

“There have been those who claim that tight­en­ing up these pro­pos­als will have the ef­fect of ban­ning green buri­als,” Dou­glas said. “That’s not true. They will make them safer while pro­tect­ing our en­vi­ron­ment as we con­tinue to grow.”

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