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County tightens Salem/Crowell zoning overlay
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There will be no pawn shops or check-cashing businesses in the Salem/Almon/Crowell roads overlay district, according to changes adopted Tuesday night by the Newton County Board of Commissioners.

Zoning administrator Judy Johnson said other changes in the area adopted as part of converting the written text to a table format include forbidding auto sales and payday loan businesses. Auto sales will no longer be allowed as by-right uses in mixed-use areas.

What followed was a series of zoning changes, led by one that commission chairman Keith Ellis said was “very amazing and unorthodox”: A request to de-annex land from the city of Covington to unincorporated Newton County. Usually, landowners request to annex into municipalities.

Brenda Webster asked the commission for permission to de-annex her property at 10701 Hwy. 36, and the commissioners agreed. The agreement includes a moratorium on rezoning her property for six months, so no changes are imminent.

Next, the commissioners approved a request to rezone .48 acres of land at Hwy. 162 and Lewis Lane as commercial to allow Freeport Title & Guaranty to build on the site. The property will have no access via 162, so the zoning requirement to build a deceleration lane was waived. Access to the property will be via Lewis Lane.

The “transition buffer” was reduced from the 75 feet required by the zoning requirements to 20 feet with an 8-foot privacy fence included.

The commissioners also approved the construction of mini-warehouses on five acres at 67 Hwy. 212. The owner, Wendell Miller Jr., received a waiver from the required 150-foot buffer to 25 feet (he had requested a 15-foot buffer, but the county planning commission wanted 25) along 212, and waived entirely the requirement for a buffer between the mini-warehouses and a car wash he owns on the north side.