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Plans for Salem growth in Newton presented
Citizens listen to urban designer Alex Fite-Wassilak speak about the Salem Overlay project at a public forum held on Thursday night at West Newton Elementary School. - photo by Danielle Everidge

Planners presented a draft of the Salem Overlay, a set of development, design and zoning plans to direct growth along the Salem Road in Newton County, on Thursday.

Members of the public gathered in the West Newton Elementary school cafeteria Thursday night to see the plans.

Scott Sirotkin, director of Newton County's Department of Development Services, said the project was one of the steps in implementing the County's 2050 Plan, a plan that looks to control growth and direct it toward the already dense western side of the county, promoting town centers that will include the majority of the county's housing, businesses and other amenities, allowing the county to save lots of money on future infrastructure.

Sirotkin said the purpose of the meeting was to share the most recent draft of the overlay and get feedback from the general public.

An overlay creates new and additional zoning and development standards for a specific area.

The intent of an overlay is to customize the standards in order to create a community that reflects the goals and preferences of a particular area.

"The Salem overlay is proposed to have three tiers, each with a different set of standards but [will] work together based on common underlying requirements," he said.

" The largest tier, Tier 1, was shown in yellow on the map. It is intended to be predominately residential with some low-intensity commercial; Tier 2 focuses on mixed use development; and Tier 3, centered on the intersection of Brown Bridge and Salem, is labeled as a town center and would be the most intense of the tiers," Sirotkin said.

Sirotkin said this was the second meeting with the general public; four meetings have already been held with the stakeholders committee and one business forum has been held. He said the meeting on Thursday was helpful because it gave the Salem Overlay team good feedback.

"We received important and helpful feedback from the citizens and other community members who attended the meeting. I hope everyone came away with a good understanding of the standards under which future development would take place in this area if the overlay is adopted," he said.

There are three more meetings scheduled for the Salem Overlay Draft.

Jessica Guinn vice president of The Collaborative Firm and urban designer Alex Fite-Wassilak presented the Salem Overlay Draft, which showed zoning, design and development standards for the Salem Community. The county hired The Collaborative Firm as a consultant to design an overlay for the Salem Road area.

A work session with the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Nov. 19. A public hearing before the Planning Commission will be held on Nov. 27 and a public hearing before the Board of Commissioners on Dec. 18.

Sirotkin said all of the meetings are open to the public and will be held at the historic courthouse.

More information about Newton County's Salem Overlay can be found at