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Meeting to focus on development in Hampton

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

Hampton residents are invited to provide their ideas on the future development of their community.

A public kick-off meeting for the Hampton Town Center Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) Study is scheduled for Aug. 9. The meeting will be held at the Hampton Depot on East Main Street, from 6:30 p.m., to 8 p.m., according to Woody Giles, a community planner with Atlanta-based Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates, and the project manager for the study.

The cost to undertake the $100,000 LCI study will be shared, with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) providing $80,000, and the City of Hampton providing $20,000, according to Hampton City Manager Andy Pippin.

The money to pay for the city's portion will be drawn from the general fund, he said. The initiative will help the city in its planning efforts, said Pippin. "The study will provide suggestions on how to handle future growth in our downtown area," he said. "It will take into consideration transportation issues, all the demographics of our population, where people work, what people do in their spare time, basically, everything that affects someone that lives in the city on a daily basis.

"The study will suggest what types of developments should come into the area, what types of businesses should locate here, where residential development should be, etc.," said Pippin. "Hampton has an opportunity to continue enjoying its small, hometown look and feel, while also positioning itself to grow in a way that will be beneficial for its citizens."

The study will focus on specific boundaries in the city, he said. "While the total area that will be studied is fairly vast, the focal point is our downtown area, including a two-and-half-acre tract of land just off Main Street, where our Public Works department is now housed.

"We are currently in the process of moving out of that building, and basically, need help in deciding what to do with that land. But in order to properly determine what to do with that small piece of the puzzle, we need to be looking at the whole puzzle and how that small piece relates to it."

The city plans to demolish the building, he said. "The existing structure on our public works location is a 4,000-square-foot, metal building," added Pippin. "It's old, dirty, and isn't good for much other than storage, which will be its primary use until such time that the city council wants to implement whatever comes out of this study. Then, the building would be taken down."

A second community-workshop meeting on future growth is scheduled for Oct. 21, at the Hampton Depot, Giles said. "Based on input received at the community workshop, which is open to the public, we will also develop more detailed redevelopment plans for areas deemed appropriate by the community," he said. "These plans will focus on creating a sense of place grounded in Hampton's historic town fabric, rather than the characterless sprawl that has come to define so much of the Atlanta region."

The study is expected to take six months to complete, he said. After that, the next step is relatively unknown, said Giles.

"We'll have a chance to discuss how implementation will work in detail at our final public meeting in February, but the results will depend on what comes out of the process over the next six months," he said. "Transportation funding may be available through the Atlanta Regional Commission for eligible projects identified during the planning process."