COVINGTON, Ga. - The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to table the request to reduce the development size of the subject property, known at Mt. Pleasant, by 175.39 acres during the Oct. 1 public hearing.
Located off Highway 11, Mt. Pleasant, a planned development to build residential and commercial units, was approved in February 2007 by the BOC to be built adjacent to Georgia State University's Newton Campus. The original approved size of the property was 230.45 acres.
Property Owner Hunter Fowler and Representative Randy Vinson requested to amend one of the previous conditions from the original planned development during the hearing:
- There will be no more than 267 total dwelling and accessory uses and structures, with a maximum density of 3.25 units to 4.85 units per acre
It was also requested to add the following three conditions to the planned development:
- Modify the boundary size from 230.45 acres to 55.06 acres
- Add a building type to the master plan called condo/apartments
- Add a building type to the master plan called Mt. Pleasant Rentals
The planned development will no longer extend to U.S. Highway 278 but will be centered West of Highway 11, with ingress and egress off Highway 11 and Cedar Lane, according to the new proposed plan. The plan will also be linked to Georgia State University's Newton Campus via road and trails.
The planned development will now consist of estate lots, cottages, townhomes, student apartments, mid-rise condos, mixed use and non-residential.
District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards said his constituents were concerned about the planned development, which is located in his district. The main concerns noted were the conservation land, the apartments and the traffic in the area.
"My constituency has spoken real loud to me over the last couple weeks, especially in the last couple days," he said. "My concern is what the terminology 'apartments' means."
Edwards asked if any property structure called 'apartments' could be used for student housing only; however, County Attorney Megan Martin replied that was not possible unless the college built the apartments.
"We have the be very careful in limiting who lives inside that structure versus the structure itself, and the land it sits on," she said. "I don't think we can do that. In my mind, there's no tool kit of how I can fix that one."
District 5 Commissioner Ronnie Cowan, who lives in the area, stated that there have been significant changes since the plan was approved in 2007. He noted that Georgia State University is "one of the largest universities in Georgia."
"The traffic is going to be there," he said. "I don't know how to stop that."
District 2 Commissioner T. Demond Mason thought the area "seemed underdeveloped," even with the college being there, and believed the plan was "an excellent opportunity."
"I understand there's a concern with traffic," he said. "That concern is all over the county. I mean, everywhere in the county you go you're going to have that to address. If we continue to stay where we are, I just don't think we're going to advance as a county as we need to."
Edwards requested the BOC give him 30 days to give him more time to speak with his constituents and answer their questions about the planned development.
District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz supported the downsize, but she thought it was reasonable to give Edwards the 30 days to meet with his constituents, having been in the same position before.
"I don't think it will hurt," she said.
District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson voted against the extension, stating that the BOC would "either vote it up, or [they're] going to vote it down."