Stanton Springs zoning changes OK'd

COVINGTON -- County commissioners have approved several amendments to the zoning ordinance governing Stanton Springs, the four-county, mixed-use development at Interstate 20 and U.S. Highway 278.

Several uses that were not previously included in the ordinance have been added, including hotel/motel, data/customer call center, farmers market and personal care/group home.

In addition, several uses that were allowed in the business park were expanded to be allowed within 1,200 feet of a state, federal or interstate highway. Those uses include video sales and rental establishments; entertainment establishments, excluding adult entertainment; flower shops; health clubs; library; professional offices, private schools and others.

Paul Michael, vice president of Technology Park Atlanta, the development partner on the project, said the intent of the changes was to allow these uses in a planned commercial corridor along U.S. 278.

"It's important to be able to market and attract the type of businesses we want at Stanton Springs," Michael said.

Commissioner Mort Ewing, the county's representative on the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties that is spear-heading Stanton Springs, said some potential customers who have looked at the site would not have been allowed under the old ordinance. The authority purchased additional land across the highway from the business park since the zoning ordinance was first approved, property that is planned as a commercial corridor and would be ideal for a hotel or motel, Ewing said.

"This is merely an update to changes that have taken place as a result of what the Joint Development Authority has done over the last 10 years. We've purchased additional land since then, and we needed to be sure we allowed a hotel or motel to locate there," he said.

Michael said the changes are also meant to standardize uses for all counties involved, as each county has its own use table.

"This is to standardize the types of uses allowed within different counties; that was the driving factor more so than any kind of request from a prospect," Michael said.

Ewing added that the changes will ensure that customers will follow the same rules and regulations. The other involved counties have passed the new ordinance as well.

Another change is a decrease in limitations on grading of steep slopes. The ordinance states lands containing streams, lakes, 100-year flood plains, wetlands, and slopes more than 35 percent will remain undisturbed and included in open space. The slope requirement was previously 15 percent. Michael said that change was to provide more flexibility in the layout of the park.