The Newton County Board of Commissioners deferred an ordinance for the Salem Road Overlay District at its Dec. 18 meeting.
Jenny Carter with the county attorney's office, who stood in for Scott Sirotkin, director of the Newton County Department of Development Service, said The Collaborative Firm, a planning and architecture firm who developed the overlay, held a public meeting on Dec. 17 and questions were raised from the community about the project, which in turn resulted in Sirotkin recommending that the BOC table the ordinance until March.
The intent of the Salem Road Overlay is to create a more livable and walkable Salem Road area by creating close knit communities to keep the small town charm of Newton County.
The zoning overlay would also place certain development standards on any future building or development that takes place in the corridor to ensure that it's consistent with what area residents and county officials want.
The idea of the overlay is to divide the Salem Road corridor from the Rockdale County line to Ga. Highway 81 into three
different development tiers.
Tier 1 would take up the majority of the corridor, including some side streets off Salem Road, and would allow mainly residential with some neighborhood commercial uses, like florists.
Tier 2 would include some mixed-use residential and light commercial uses. The primary area for this would be from the Rockdale County line south, to the historic Salem Campground area.
Tier 3 would have the heaviest commercial use, but would also be a mixed-use area that would have high walkability. This area would be considered the "town center" and would be the area at the intersection of Brown Bridge and Salem roads.
At the board meeting, Commissioner Nancy Schulz agreed with the recommendation to hold off on approving the proposed Salem Road Overlay presented.
"We did hold a public meeting last night and based on the comments that we heard from the public we felt that it is in the best interest of the strength of this overlay that we listen to what the constituents of this area have to say and that we go back to the drawing table and make a stronger ordinance," Schulz said.
Schulz made the motion to defer the ordinance for 60 to 90 days, and the board unanimously approved.
The BOC also agreed to extend its contract with The Collaborative Firm until March 31. County Manager John Middleton said the cost of the contract would be $4,175 per month for January through March. Middleton said $60,000 in funding was set aside for developing the Salem Road Overlay District project and the expenses associated with extending the contract would come from that particular fund.