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Commissioners object to annexation request from Porterdale
County - LOCAL

NEWTON COUNTY – An annexation request from the city of Porterdale was objected to at June 4’s Newton County Board of Commissioners meeting.

A petition filed by Porterdale to annex five parcels of land measuring 390.51 acres into the city was objected 4-0, with District 4 commissioner J.C. Henderson absent from the meeting.

The proposed annexation is located on Brown Bridge Road and Dinah Pace Road, with the expectation of a residential development to occupy the space. Council members with the Porterdale city council heard from the developers behind the project as recently as the April 18 work session.

Currently, the estimated amount of lots for the development is 640 with the minimum lot size between 5,000-9,000 square feet.

The annexation includes a rezoning request from Newton County’s R-2 residential zoning to Porterdale’s R-3 zoning ordinance. This will allow the minimum square feet allocations to decrease from 35,000 required square feet per lot to 9,000 square feet per lot.

An additional accompanying request calls the need for setback reductions. Those include a reduction from 15 to five feet for side setbacks, 35 to 10 feet for front setbacks and 35 to 20 feet for rear setbacks.

“It’s designed as a more clustered type community,” said county attorney Patrick Jaugstetter, who was giving the presentation.

Jaugstetter also told the board that they had the grounds to object to the petition, citing a proposed change in the future land use map, increase in density and increase in infrastructure demands.

The board went into discussion on how they felt about the annexation, with all of the members in attendance seeming to be on the same page.

“I’m not opposed to annexations, however, this is not a good one,” said District 5 commissioner Ronnie Cowan. “It’s too dense. It’s gonna cause some problems down the road for the county. They’ve got to redesign this before I would be supportive of it.”

District 3 commissioner Alana Sanders – who mentioned that this area was formerly in her district – also felt the objection was the right call for the board to make due to prior conversations she had with her constituents.

Sanders also mentioned that both fire and police services need to be included in these discussions.

“We have to always include, need to include, fire and law enforcement in these conversations when we build in these dense areas,” Sanders said.

District 1 commissioner and vice-chair Stan Edwards – who filled in for chairman Marcello Banes at this meeting – agreed with Sanders, adding that sheriff Ezell Brown should be included in any development conversations.

“I believe it was several meetings, several months ago, that sheriff Brown stood before us and asked us to consult him when we start looking at these,” Edwards said. “I don’t know if that was or was not done, but if it’s annexed to the city of Porterdale even the city of Porterdale police would have, by road to this subdivision, at least three miles before they could ever get to this subdivision.”

After the board’s unanimous decision to object to the annexation, the next steps will involve the city of Porterdale and the commissioners to undergo informal discussions to resolve the matter.

If the informal discussions do not reach a resolution, then an arbitration hearing would go before the Department of Community Affairs where a final ruling would be made.