The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners 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. Each improvement will earn the county a certain number of points towards the certification.
Altogether the county has to earn at least 200 points by April, the deadline to apply for the ARC certification.
Rockdale County Capital Projects Manager Andrew Hammer says that the idea turning Rockdale County into a green community could save the tax payers money through the transformation and also protect the environment.
Recreation and Maintenance policy
The first string of policies approved by the board focused on the Recreation and Maintenance Department. Each policy is worth five points. They are:
• To install bicycles racks at buildings, facilities and parks owned and operated by the county. The policy states that the addition of bike racks will promote bicycle use throughout the community.
• Adopt a no idling policy for county owned vehicles. This policy is aimed at reducing fuel costs. Vehicles on duty and being operated by the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office will be exempt from this policy.
• To establish a lights out or power down policy for buildings and facilities owned and operated by the county. Under this policy, employees at county buildings will have to shut down the power on personal computers, printers, monitors, copiers and other miscellaneous office equipment at the end of the work day.
Planning and Development policy
The next policy the board enacted during its latest voting session was the adoption of a sustainable development incentives policy, which is worth 30 points.
"The policy covers all general aspects of the green initiative, which is green building certification, green affordable housing, solar energy and smart growth," said Marshall Walker, director of the Planning and Development Department.
Building developers could be eligible for a rebate up to 50 percent of building permit fees on a project that obtains a green building certification. For residential projects, an additional 15 percent rebate fees could be available. Any project incorporating electricity generated by solar energy could be eligible for a 15 percent rebate.
A 50 percent rebate on building permit fees or land disturbance fees would be eligible to developers building any nonresidential infill project on a developed property located inside an Urban Redevelopment Area. Renovation costs would have to match at least 50 percent of the property's value.
Rezoning property in the Salem Road Corridor area to mixed use development and rezoning property for the purpose of residential subdivisions to collaborative residential subdivision or conservation subdivision development district could be eligible for a 100 percent rezoning fee rebate.
"This one I'm most excited about," said Planning and Development Planner Catherine Mercier-Baggett.
After Post 2 Commissioner JaNice Van Ness questioned the sustainable development policies, Mercier-Baggett added that the policies are only incentives and that developers could choose to not adhere to them if they so choose.
Other county department policy
A host of other county departments are working on policies that would contribute to the overall 200 points needed for the ARC certification.
Points needed for other departments include 15 points for the Finance Department, five points for Human Resources, 15 points for Rockdale Water Resources, 30 points for Rockdale Department of Transportation, and additional 10 points for the Planning and Development and 65 more points for the Recreation and Maintenance department.
"These policies represent one pack of policies," said Hammer to the board. "We will come back before you with another packet later in the year."
Rockdale Chair Richard Oden praised the policies implantation as a step forward in the right direction for the county.
"Our membership in the ARC has allowed us to be in this kind of position. These are really interesting policies," said Oden. "As we continue to develop these businesses, we got to give incentives.