County discusses development of community impact, cemetery zoning
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.”