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BOC drops objection to bypass annexation
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The Newton County Board of Commissioners has dropped its objection to the proposed annexation of 16 acres located on the Covington Bypass by the city of Porterdale.

The decision to drop the annexation came after several meetings between the county's engineer, Kevin Walter, the city's engineer and attorneys from all concerned parties said James Griffin, an attorney with County Attorney Tommy Craig's office.

Out of those meetings, Griffin said the county and the city were able to come to agreement on several key items especially on the issue of traffic mitigation.

In August the county raised an official objection to the annexation on the grounds that not enough information was submitted to the county in the annexation proposal. The county also objected to the proposed rezoning to general commercial of the 15.8 acres of land which the county contended would draw an inordinate amount of traffic to the area and the existing road infrastructure could not support such traffic.

According to Griffin, city officials in Porterdale expressed similar concerns to those of the county regarding the strain placed on existing infrastructure as a result of the development.

 "Porterdale agreed with our objection and requested the developer mitigate traffic in a particular way and the developer agreed to do it," Griffin said. "When you annex both sides of the road, you now control the road. If the traffic got to be really bad, Porterdale would have to find the money to solve the problem."

According to the annexation agreement approved by the BOC at their Oct. 16 council meeting, the conditions for the annexation and rezoning will include mitigating measures for traffic and road improvements, land-use restrictions, permitted-use restrictions, aesthetic guidelines and an approval process for conceptual plans prior to the issuance of land disturbance permits and building permits.

The owner of the 15.8 acres, Whitehorse LLC, is proposing to develop the land as a retail center with a total of 87,800 square feet of retail space spread out over three buildings.

Whitehorse LLC also owns 31 acres of land across the street from the 15.8 acres. The 31 acres was annexed by Porterdale two years ago and has already been zoned general commercial and is being developed as a mixed use development with a commercial component. The two projects are being developed separately according to Whitehorse attorney Frank Turner Jr.

Among the minimum zoning conditions and mitigating measures approved by both the county and city are:

• The limitation to a single-curb cut onto the Bypass and the installation of deceleration and acceleration lanes to and from the retail center.

• The construction of left turn lanes on the Bypass serving each direction of travel on the road.

• The dedication of right-of-way along the Bypass to the city.

• The addition of cross-walks crossing the Bypass leading to the retail center and the addition of sidewalks to accommodate pedestrian traffic from the Bypass.

• The installation of a traffic signal and a cross-walk signal.

• No out parcel creation or development to be permitted.

• The architectural design of new retail buildings is to be compatible with the historic character of Porterdale with brick facades.