While the economy has put Rockdale’s plans for the Salem Road corridor largely on hold, the public will have the chance to ask about the Salem Road Corridor Overlay District, as well as proposed amendments to the county’s sign ordinance, at a Town Hall meeting Thursday, April 19.
The county’s Board of Commissioners will hold the meeting from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Peachtree Academy located off Salem Road. Along with the BOC, members of the county’s Planning and Development Department will provide information on both topics and take questions from residents and business owners.
The Salem Road Corridor Overlay district, or SRCO, became a part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan in 2004 following an extensive study involving citizens, public officials, planners and designers. One of the goals described in the study was to establish a “sense of place” by focusing on three basic elements — land use, transportation and urban design of public improvements and private development along the county’s portion of Salem Road, which runs approximately two miles from the I-20 exit to Surrey Trail.
“Establishing the district aimed to make development more uniform and to make the corridor more pedestrian and neighborhood-friendly,” said Planning and Zoning Department Director Marshall Walker.
While the corridor has seen the emergence of several new businesses in recent years that follow the guidelines laid out in the ordinance, growth has been slow since the ordinance was adopted in 2004. By promoting a balance between living and working, the urban design aspect of the SRCO ordinance outlines a set of principles designed to make the corridor more appealing and coherent while the transportation aspect considers accessibility and safety along the corridor.
The third major aspect of the ordinance, which focuses on land use, encourages and regulates redevelopment of underutilized and blighted property as well as innovative development projects that set high standards for community design and public amenities.
Conyers resident Sue Chappell was among approximately 100 citizens to participate in the extensive series of public meetings held when the SRCO ordinance was developed in 2004. She said many Salem Road residential and commercial property owners provided input during the research phase.
“Creating the ordinance was a very complex and involved process but, due to economic conditions, we haven’t really felt the impact or seen the results yet,” said Chappell. She supported the SRCO ordinance and plans to attend the meeting Thursday.
Newton County has a $34.4 million project to widen its portion of Salem Road on the list of projects for its upcoming regional transportation penny sales tax referendum, or TSPLOST. If the TSPLOST for the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission is approved by voters in July, Salem Road will be widened from two lanes to four lanes from Old Salem Road to Brown Bridge Road.
In a separate topic, the BOC will also discuss proposed amendments to the county’s sign ordinance. The county has worked to make the sign ordinance more compatible with the city of Conyers’ sign ordinance, said Walker. Most notable will be regulating signage within commercial districts for more uniform signage county-wide. Also included in the proposed amendments is a separate policy for gas stations and a change allowing the planning and zoning department to handle sign variances rather than requiring variances to be approved by the Board of Adjustment.
Peachtree Academy is located at 1801 Ellington Road off Salem Road and parking will be available on by entering on Wall Street. More information is available at www.rockaldecounty.org or by calling (770) 278-7100.