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Events on square to be able to use power
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Private events on the square will now have access to the city’s power supply for a $30 fee, after the city council voted to amend the Downtown Covington Permit.

In the past only government-related organizations could use the square’s power supply. Private organizers couldn’t even pay for the right to use power previously because Covington had no official policy regarding usage or pricing, City Manager Steve Horton said.

Recently the Newton County Republican Party wanted to use power for their rally on May 27 and were confused when they were denied access to power, as they had observed a church using the square’s power supply earlier in May. After review, Horton said the power supply had been accidentally left on, so the church had simply plugged into the supply.

"It had always been my policy that we only provide power to those organizations that are city-authorized or sanctioned or county-authorized and sanctioned, like Main Street," Horton said. "Otherwise, everyone who got a permit on the square would get free power, which is a commodity, and every kilowatt used would have to be paid for by the city."

After speaking to Republican Party members and other event organizers, Horton decided the interest in using the square for events had increased to the point where a power policy was needed.

In addition to charging $30 for the right to use power for an event, the city council voted to require a Downtown Covington Permit to be acquired 10 business days before an event would take place, to ensure a city official was available to turn on and off the square’s power. A clarification was also made that permits for specific dates would be given out on a first come, first serve basis, if the events would interfere with one another. At the suggestion of citizen Greg Shy, the council agreed that the $30 fee will be refunded if an event is cancelled and the organizer requests the refund.

In other news from Monday night’s city council meeting:

— Jerry Silvio, of Silvio Development Company, LLC, is planning to develop a mixed-use commercial development on the heavily-wooded, 61.062 acres of property owned by SKC Inc., directly north of Interstate 20 and southeast of the intersection of Ga. Highway 142 and Hazelbrand Road. The city council approved rezoning the property from Heavy Industrial to Corridor Mix.

According to Silvio’s submitted plan, there will be three big box anchor stores, six medium retail stores and several smaller stores in the shopping complex. There would be a total of 471,000 square feet of retail space. The smaller stores would have retail on the bottom level and 76 residential units on the upper levels. Because of the current residential market, these units would be used as office space instead of residential space for at least the next several years.

The planning commission said the rezoning request made sense because Highway 142 is rapidly developing into a more commercial corridor. The commission said that within the past three years Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree and Aldi have all been developed within a quarter-mile of the SKC property.

The complex would have 1,774 parking spaces and 253 trees. The plan is still dependent on traffic studies.

— A couple of small street-parking changes were made to Hendricks and Washington streets. Two spaces on Washington Street in front of United Bank will be limited to two-hour parking. The change was made to clear the spaces for elderly senior citizens who use the bank and need easy access, because the bank has no drive-thru lane.

Also, the loading zone in front of Ramsey’s warehouse on Hendricks will be stripped to clarify that the space is for loading only.

— The city council is appointing members to serve on the Organizing Committee for the Covington Redevelopment Authority. The redevelopment authority will oversee the implementation of the Urban Redevelopment Plan, which was passed at May 18’s city council meeting.

The URP is the plan that will allow Covington to actually implement suggestions from previous master plans, including: the 2001 Downtown Master Plan, the 2005 Highway 278 Livable Communities Initiative, other downtown plans and the 2009 Economic Development Strategy.

According to the URP, the redevelopment authority will: have the powers granted by the state’s Urban Redevelopment Law to pursue a wide variety of activities that can fund and develop the public projects and can encourage new private investment. This authority is charged with developing specific, implementation-oriented work plans to carry out those purposes by opening new funding sources and partnership opportunities to the city.