COVINGTON -- The city of Covington and Newton County have agreed to move forward with the next phase of implementing the 2050 Plan.
The city, county and Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority will each contribute $50,000 to create ordinances and intergovernmental agreements necessary to implement the plan. The process will take 18 to 24 months and will be facilitated by The Center for Community Preservation and Planning.
The next phase includes developing baseline ordinances for the three development zones -- conservation, rural and compact community -- in the plan; developing ordinances that apply to two or more development zones, such as transferable development rights and overlays; and establishing intergovernmental agreements related to sewer service territory and annexation, according to a project description supplied by The Center.
The total cost is expected to run between $150,000 and $250,000. The cities of Mansfield, Newborn, Oxford and Porterdale are also expected to contribute funds.
There are currently 60 zoning descriptions in the ordinances of Newton's eight governments. "Creating baseline ordinances will simplify zoning, increasing efficiency and decreasing cost," according to The Center's project description.
Commissioner Nancy Schulz said moving forward with this phase is timely, given that builders and developers are starting to show interest again on the west side of the county and with Baxter International coming to east Newton.
"It's very important to get ordinances in place to give clarity to developers as they begin to move back into our community," she said.
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said he believes Covington and Newton are "getting ready to have a little growth boom."
"If we don't have this in place, we don't have a way to control building," he said.
The 2050 Plan is based on projections that the county's population could reach 400,000 by 2050. The key principles of the buildout plan are protecting clean water; creating communities; creating corridors; and coordinating infrastructure.
The plan includes a map that portrays the placement of town centers in the Covington, Almon, Salem, Oak Hill and Hub Junction communities. The Almon Overlay has already been approved and the Salem Overlay is expected to be approved by year's end. The plan also includes a proposed Bear Creek Reservoir and an airport business park; a conservation zone in the eastern part of the county that contains large agricultural parcels and a watershed and would be occupied by 5 percent of the population; compact community zones throughout the western and central part of the county occupied by 80 percent of the population; and rural zones in Oxford and along the Yellow River with 15 percent of the population.
Members of the Leadership Collaborative worked together to create the plan. Members include representatives from the county and its five municipalities, the Chamber of Commerce, the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority and the Newton County Board of Education. The plan has been unanimously supported by all those governments and organizations.