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Posted: July 15, 2014 10:00 p.m.

City approves change in parking lot ordinance

Some new businesses coming to Covington can now have parking facing the road after a final reading was unanimously approved Tuesday evening by the Covington City Council.

The ordinance that passed allows a business adjacent to a road with a speed limit of 45 mph or greater to put its parking lot between the building and road.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston said the ordinance was time sensitive because a prospect, which was being called Project Two, was interested in purchasing land off exit 93 next to the Hampton Inn and needed to make sure the original ordinance, not allowing any parking between a building and roads with speed limits at 45 mph or less, was amended.

Johnston pointed out to the council they voted to change the ordinance last month with a unanimous vote, but that the deadline for Project Two needed an immediate approval of the final reading.

“The issue is with the way the land is set up, the actual (building) and the way it is constructed,” said Serra Phillips-Hall, director of commercial development for the Covington/Newton County Office of Economic Development.

Hall said the prospect is required to have a certain number of parking spaces in relation to the size of the building, and the only way that is possible is if parking is allowed in the front of the building facing Industrial Blvd.

Hall and the Office of Economic Development have been working with the prospect since January and were facing the risk of losing Project Two to another county.

Mayor Johnston said lifting the ordinance on roads 45 mph or greater will allow more opportunity for new businesses to come to the city and county while retaining the aesthetic appeal and protection needed on slower roads throughout the county’s historic districts.

Pending the council’s approval Tuesday evening, Johnston asked the Planning and Zoning Department to make suggestions on additions to the ordinance that would enhance rules for buffers and landscaping between the road and building.

Liquor store drive-thru?

The owner of the new liquor store coming to Covington may be allowed to have a drive-thru window.

The change in the ordinance to allow such a purchasing option is to be put on an upcoming agenda, approved at that stage 4-1.

Currently, only walk-up alcohol purchases are allowed.

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