County plans mixed-use development
Study will focus on area around U.S. Highway 278

COVINGTON - Planning is under way for the creation of a new mixed-use zoning district in the county.

Commissioners recently gave their approval for the Planning and Development Department to file an application with the Atlanta Regional Commission through its Quality Growth Implementation Assistance Program.

If selected, the county would receive free technical assistance from ARC in drafting a mixed-use district, Planning and Development Director Marian Eisenberg told commissioners at their March 3 meeting.

The creation of the district would meet a goal of the Livable Centers Initiative study, which focused on ways to improve the U.S. Highway 278 corridor, as well as the comprehensive land use plan, Eisenberg said.

According to Senior Planner Scott Sirotkin, a mixed-use district would allow multi-story buildings, typically with retail and office space on the first floors, and residential units above, such as the Lofts on the Square.

"Mixed-use development can also occur in single-story buildings where the uses are mixed within certain areas. This type of development would be appropriate in the 'centers' of the development nodes called for by our Comprehensive Plan," Sirotkin said in a letter to commissioners. "This project will focus on an area along Highway 278, which is part of the Livable Centers Initiative Study Area. The end result of our work with the ARC would be a draft ordinance to present to the Board for consideration. This district could also be used as a foundation for the development of mixed-use districts for other areas of the county."

ARC staff would work to develop the ordinance with a local steering committee that would include representatives from The Center for Community Preservation and Planning, Smart Growth Newton County, The Newton County Home Builders Association, developers and commissioners.

The general public would also have an opportunity to give input, Sirotkin said, adding that the task would take close to a year to complete.

The board agreed to sign off on the application. Sirotkin said the ARC gives priority to applications containing the signatures of all elected officials.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.