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BOC to vote on moratorium, Archway project

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on several important resolutions tonight, some of which will have significant impacts on future development in the county.

The BOC will likely extend several aspects of the county's current zoning moratorium. If passed, the resolution would suspend commercial zoning along Tara Boulevard, the Highway 138 corridor, and all proposed residential zoning until June 20.

Beverly Ramsey, interim zoning administrator for the Clayton County Planning and Zoning Department, said extending the moratorium until June 20 will give zoning employees time to learn and apply the county's new zoning ordinance. The meaure is still in draft stage, but the county hopes to adopt the new ordinance on May 22.

"If they adopt the ordinance on [May 22], they want to give the staff time to be prepared before they release the moratorium," said Ramsey. She said the time between May 22 and June 20 would "allow everybody to be on the same page," before applications are accepted again.

"We're still updating it ... that's why we haven't lifted the zoning moratorium," said Commissioner Wole Ralph. He said the county's major intersections and corridors are the "face" of the county and that the county is taking a "serious look" at the issues by seeking to extend the moratorium.

"I think this is a move that shows the county is really ready to take care of some of the problems it has historically had with zoning," Ralph added.

"We have to make sure this is right," said Commissioner Sonna Singleton. "This is a big step for the county. All the commissioners, we are really concerned about how we are growing this county."

The BOC will also vote to formalize an agreement with the University of Georgia to enter into the Archway Partnership Project. The plan -- which would leverage the resources of the University System of Georgia for the county's benefit -- has been openly endorsed by the BOC, seven municipalities, the school system, the Chamber of Commerce, and several other entities.

As a part of that agreement, the county will have to commit $93,000 -- a shared burden among twelve different entities.

The BOC will commit the lion's share of $25,000; Clayton County Public Schools will give $20,000; Lake City will give $3,000, and the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, Southern Regional Medical Center, Clayton County Public Health, and the cities of Morrow, Forest Park, Riverdale, Jonesboro, College Park, and Lovejoy will contributed $5,000 each.

In turn, UGA will dedicate $200,000 as well as the expertise of leaders in the fields of engineering, agriculture, urban development, and political governance.

Singleton said that she is excited about the possibility of Clayton County being the first urban county to become an Archway community.

"I've been on board with this from the first meeting," said Singleton. "It's going to give us a chance to address some of the human-service needs that we have in the county."

Ralph said the Archway Partnership Project would be a valuable tool in bringing the BOC's vision for the county into fruition. "The great thing about Archway is that it is a model that has worked in other places," said Ralph. "When you look at where Clayton County is right now, it's a result of poor planning over the last 20 years. Archway is a very strong step forward."

The meeting will take place tonight at 7 p.m.