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Posted: July 22, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Our thoughts on 2050: Make changes now

It’s time for a change on the 2050 Plan — both to the document itself and officials’ approach in presenting it to the public.

The two public meetings on the plan to date have made it profoundly clear that flaws are abundant. The meetings themselves were at times nasty, a poor reflection on manners and a redundent question and answer session on TDRs and referendum questions. They did, however, seem to serve to point out that more-of-the-same isn’t an option.

The officials running the hearings have stated that certain aspects of the plan will be cut or changed from the first version of the 200-page document. So change the way you are operating currently, and take out a red pen and slash it now. No need to wait.

The 20-acre minimum lot size in the plan’s “conservation districts” won’t work, and elected officials have bluntly declared that they know that. So make it official and remove that number from the draft now. Do so now, not in a second draft to be written after three more public hearings. Why drag it out and let the public have more to complain about? It also will show that the public has been heard, you are listening.

“Density Transfer Charges” is another unpopular proposition, and another item that has been shot down by officials. Again, hit the delete button. Make them go away on paper, rather than just verbally.

“Actions speak louder than words” has become a popular idiom for a reason. Put everyone’s thoughts to rest — eliminate the reason for the bickering. Grab the white out.

And stop explaining the plan for an hour or two prior to taking comments at a public hearing. Doing that when people should have taken the time to familiarize themselves with the plan long before seems an insult. Let people start asking questions immediately. And then answer those questions.

We don’t mean to sound overly critical of the plan’s proponents. We’re more embarrassed by taxpayers’ behavior at the last public hearing in Mansfield. Heckling and shouting are beneath us as a county, aren’t they? We thought so, before Thursday at least.

It’s obvious the plan has people upset. That is OK. It’s just as obvious the plan has its faults. That’s OK, too. But dial down the rhetoric and make the changes everyone agrees upon. Find the common ground and build there.

A plan is needed for the county’s future. Simplifying the county’s zoning by consolidating everything in one document makes sense. There’s a lot of good in the 2050 plan. But there’s a lot of nonsense, too. Once we agree upon what needs to go, it should go. Don’t let the bad linger. Get rid of it and let’s move on to talking about the upsides of the plan and how to make it better.

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dct1953: July 23, 2014 1:36 a.m.

The people are riled up for several reasons. No average ordinally citizens was involved with putting it together. Look at other places that put in plans like this and you will see that they used citizens panels. 2nd how dare they play us for fools by stating they intentionally put out a bad plan to see how we would react. 3rd we already have a plan- it is called zoning- yet it isn't followed. The Covnews was in the last commissioner's meeting same as I. Two varience were given from residential, mixed used where setbacks were reduced drastically. The vote was unamious by our commissioners. All you have to do is be rich enough to hire a lawyer to bypass or circumvent zoning in Newton. If the BOC want enforce zoning how are they expected to enforce a plan this large. The 2050 plan needs to be dropped now as a mistake. Georgia law allows us to push it to a referendum- even if it is passed by the BOC- by garnering 10% of the registered voters on petitions and filing with the probate judge. He will have no choice but to call a referendum. We will do that because this plan is garbage.

dawgs14: July 23, 2014 9:41 a.m.

"A plan is needed for the county’s future." I agree with that statement. I don't agree with the 2050 (draft 1) but when the economy recovers, and it will, Baxter will make D1 a prime target for developers - again. The only thing good about the economic down-turn was it stopped development in D1. I speak with people every day in construction and development and make no mistake, the development was coming. Even with our two-acre minimums the developments would have taken its toll on roads, schools, water, and quality of life in D1. I know for a fact the drive from the Hub Junction to Mansfield would look much different right now if not for the bad economy. All that siad, yes we need a plan of some sort.

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