No changes made to or­di­nances (so far)

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE -

Staff is still re­view­ing New­ton County’s or­di­nances less than two weeks af­ter a five-week mora­to­rium was placed on per­mits for places of wor­ship.

As of Fri­day, County Man­ager Lloyd Kerr said no rec­om­men­da­tions or changes have been made in zon­ing or­di­nances re­lated to places of wor­ship.

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers (BOC) voted unan­i­mously to en­act the mora­to­rium on Aug. 16 af­ter a pro­posed mosque be­ing de­vel­oped on 135 acres on Ge­or­gia High­way 162 and County Line Road was made pub­lic.

The sale of the land passed through New­ton County’s De­vel­op­ment Ser­vices de­part­ment on June 16 with­out a pub­lic hear­ing or no­tice be­cause the county or­di­nance per­mits places of wor­ship in all zon­ing ar­eas. Ceme­ter­ies are also per­mis­si­ble in ar­eas zoned agri­cul­ture res­i­den­tial, as long as the prop­erty is at least 10-acres in size and all graves are set back 40-feet from prop­erty or right-of-way lines, ac­cord­ing to Sec­tion 510151 of the New­ton County Zon­ing Or­di­nance.

The pro­posed use of the land was ac­cept­able to county or­di­nances, New­ton County Zon­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tor Judy John­son told Al Maad Al Is­lami Inc. in a let­ter. Al Maad Al Is­lami, Inc. had pur­chased the 135-acres form Neely Fam­ily Farms, LLC.

“Ac­cord­ing to the site plan sub­mit­ted with this re­quest al­lo­cat­ing 10.5 acres for the ini­tial ceme­tery plus an ad­di­tional 15.1 acres for ceme­tery ex­pan­sion, the re­quest to op­er­ate a pri­vate ceme­tery is an al­low­able an­cil­lary use for a Place of Wor­ship or a stand-alone use as pre­sented,” said Judy John­son, Zon­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tor in the ap­proval let­ter dated June 16, 2015. “The ceme­tery use must com­ply with the re­quire­ments of Sec. 510-151 of the New­ton County Zon­ing Or­di­nance.”

County staff was asked by the BOC to re­view some of those or­di­nances and present its find­ings to the board dur­ing its Sept. 20 meet­ing. So far, no changes have been iden­ti­fied to be rec­om­mended.

“To date, the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers has taken no fur­ther ac­tion con­cern­ing the mora­to­rium placed on all places of wor­ship,” Kerr said. “Dur­ing the mora­to­rium, New­ton County De­vel­op­ment Ser­vices will re­view zon­ing or­di­nances for all places of wor­ship and make rec­om­men­da­tions for nec­es­sary changes if ap­pli­ca­ble to the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers. “

Kerr also said ap­pli­cants may still sub­mit site plans for re­view, and de­vel­op­ment ser­vices will be able to is­sue per­mits if the site plans are ap­proved once the mora­to­rium ex­pires or is lifted.

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