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Newton votes to remove lot minimums, include elements of 2050 Plan in unified code

COVINGTON — After a robust discussion before a passionate crowd of spectators, the Newton County Commission Tuesday night voted to scrap controversial portions of the 2050 Plan baseline ordinances but to continue work on developing a county-wide comprehensive land use plan.

Commissioner Levie Maddox made a motion – which was akin to a bombshell – that called for the county Development Services Department to “produce a draft unified development code for the county.” Nancy Schulz seconded the motion and heated discussion followed.

The motion surprised onlookers because a majority of the citizens addressing the commission earlier had advocated ending the 2050 Plan altogether. Many in the crowd applauded when Commissioner John Douglas said, “The 2050 Plan has to go, and the sooner the better.”

The commission passed Maddox' motion 3-2, with Maddox, Schulz and Lanier Sims voting for it and Douglas and J.C. Henderson voting against.

Maddox made a second successful motion, seconded by Schulz, to permanently remove from any drafts of the baseline ordinances the 20-10 provisions which proposed to restrict lots in the eastern conservation district to a minimum of 20 acres and parcels in the proposed rural district to a 10-acre minimum.

Another Maddox motion that passed requires Development Services to enter into detailed contracts if it solicits outside consultants such as The Center for Community Preservation and Planning, contracts which would detail scope of work and deliverables and which must be approved by the County Commission.

Maddox's motion specifically stated: To continue work on an updated comprehensive land use plan and zoning and development ordinances for Newton County by asking Development Services staff to compile all current zoning and development ordinances and elements of the draft baseline ordinance to produce a draft unified development code for the county, and to require that, in the event staff requests assistance from any consultants, a contractual agreement outlining the scope of work for all services to be performed be approved by the Board of Commissioners.