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The Center to host public meetings on 2050 Plan

COVINGTON — The 2050 Plan for Newton County is moving forward into the next phase with public meetings planned to discuss the baseline ordinances.

Baseline ordinances were created for the three development zones — conservation, rural and compact community — in the plan. The Center developed ordinances that apply to two or more development zones, such as transferable development rights and overlays; and worked to establish intergovernmental agreements related to sewer service territory and annexation.

The city, county and Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority contributed $50,000 each to create ordinances and intergovernmental agreements necessary to implement the plan. The ordinances were facilitated by The Center for Community Preservation and Planning.

The total cost was supposed to run between $150,000 and $250,000. The cities of Mansfield, Newborn, Oxford and Porterdale also contributed funds.

There are currently 60 zoning descriptions in the ordinances of Newton’s eight governments. The 2050 plan’s project description states, “creating baseline ordinances will simplify zoning, increasing efficiency and decreasing cost.”

The public meetings will allow citizens to hear the ordinances and give feedback. The schedule of meetings is as follows:

• July 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Live Oak Elementary, 500 Kirkland Road in Covington;

• July 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Mansfield Elementary, 45 East Third Ave. in Mansfield;

• July 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Flint Hill Elementary, 1300 Airport Road in Oxford;

• July 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Eastside High, 10245 Eagle Drive in Covington; and

• Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Oak Hill Elementary, 6243 Ga. Highway 212 in Covington.

Newton Board of Commissioners Chairman Keith Ellis said The Center will lead the meetings and the city, county or NCWSA leaders will not be on the podium. Attempts to reach The Center’s Executive Director Kay B. Lee were unsuccessful before press time.

“As this point, The Center is trying to give the public some more information and receive their comments,” Ellis said. “This is definitely not a final document, this is really just the beginning.”

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 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.