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County selected for agricultural pilot program
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Newton County was chosen to participate in a free, state pilot program that will help it protect its agricultural land.

Staff from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission will help Newton County form a Local Agriculture Protection Guide during the next year.

Scott Sirotkin, director of Developmental Services, said previously that the regional commission will work with the county to preserve agricultural areas through the use of planning and zoning techniques or economic development strategies aimed to help Newton farmers.

Only one of the commission's 12 counties was selected for the program, and Newton County got the nod because several local governments and other groups expressed support in the application, according to a letter from the commission. All members of the Leadership Collaborative, including the county, its cities, the school system and the water and sewerage authority, pledged their support.

"The success of this project will rely heavily on the engagement of the local community," commission planner Nina Kelly wrote in her letter. At least one public meeting and one public hearing will be conducted.

Sirotkin said he didn't have any specifics, but the first meeting with the commission will take place next week.