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Electric vehicle charging accomodations discussed for county law changes

More and more people have bought electric, 100 percent battery-powered vehicles that release zero emissions or plug-in hybrids, vehicles with both an electric motor and a regular gasoline engine that kicks in once the electric motor is depleted, and county officials have taken notice.

The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners discussed amending two ordinances at its work session Tuesday morning. The ordinance changes would provide the beginning steps for developers to build electric vehicle charging stations and units in Rockdale County, says Rockdale County Planning and Development Director Marshall Walker.

The first change to the ordinance is adding in definitions for words related to the new kinds of automobiles, including the definitions of an electric vehicle, electric vehicle battery exchange station, electric vehicle charging station and electric vehicle charging unit.

The second ordinance change regulates where the charging stations and units can be built. Charging stations, defined as a stand-alone apparatus dedicated to the charging of electric vehicle batteries, by providing a connection to a power source, will be located in parking lots. Charging units, defined as a wall-mounted apparatus with an electrical outlet, will be installed on an exterior or interior wall of a building.

Electric vehicle battery exchange station, defined as a facility where an electric vehicle can exchange its depleted batter for a fully charged battery, will be allowed in the same zoning districts as minor and major automotive repair and maintenance businesses. 

“We have had inquiries from the private sector about this,” Walker said to the board. “They’re kind of waiting for us to get supplemental standards in place so they can know exactly what they can do.”

However, the actually timetable of constructing these devices are a long way down the road.

“This is indeed part of the green communities program which we have engaged in and this will bring us up to speed on the charging stations,” said Walker. “This is not so much right now. It is a future thing that will definitely take off.”

Post 1 County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt didn’t hide the fact that he liked what the county was doing, in terms of working to be more environmentally friendly, and supported the change to the ordinance because he’s seen so many local residents driving electric vehicles, specifically he mentioned the Nissan Leaf.

Also, Nesbitt spoke of the economic impact building these types of stations and units could have on the local economy.

“This is the economic development piece as well Mr. Chairman, (because) folks coming through to the county who are driving the electric vehicle will have the opportunity to stop at a charging station which will allow them to recharge, spend a little money while their vehicle is recharging and it will boost the economy locally,” said Nesbitt. “That’s really good news in terms of what’s going with the green initiative.”

This is the second reading of the ordinance that has come before the board. A vote on the new ordinance will take during the board’s regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 10 a.m. at the Assembly Hall, 901 Main Street, Conyers. 

In November, county board adopted a number of policies with the purpose of helping the community obtain a Green Communities Certification from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The Green Communities Certification requires a number of county departments to make improvements in their area of operation.