The Bartow County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of a request from the County government to create a new overlay district in the southernmost portion of Bartow at Monday evening’s public meeting.
“We are proposing several special regulations in an attempt to improve and encourage redevelopment of the area,” said Bartow County Zoning Administrator Brandon Johnson. “Our main interest is commercial development in the area — we are proposing that certain uses are conditional uses in the C-1 district.”
Under the Allatoona Overlay District proposal, numerous developments — among others, car washes, mini-warehouses, storage yards and garages — would henceforth require a permit to be constructed in a wide swath of Acworth, spanning north-south from Island Mill Road down to Cherokee Street and west-east from Summer Drive and Allen Circle to the Bartow/Cherokee line.
“Even if you have a commercial-zoned property, you would still be required to come through the conditional use process,” Johnson said. “That way, the County can ensure we’re permitting quality development in the area.”
The overlay would not require conditional use permits for several commercial uses, however, including restaurants, retail, apartments, hotels or banks.
“We will require all C-1 lots to be developed with sidewalks,” Johnson continued. “We’ve heard from the community for several years now that sidewalks are necessary, so we’re putting that requirement in the overlay.”
Whether commercially or industrially zoned, the overlay ordinance would also require new developments within the district to have a 20-foot landscape buffer paralleling public road frontage.
“Most of our commercial development will be on Glade Road,” Johnson said. “We want to see that area become a more scenic corridor, so we feel that landscaping requirement will assist in that.”
Johnson said the overlay district is also meant to encourage “quality” residential investments in the area — particularly along Glade Road, Red Top Mountain Road, New Hope Church Road and Kings Camp Road.
“We have a requirement that placing or replacing a manufactured home on these roads, we’ll ask for a landscape strip or an ornamental fence, and you can be exempt from that if you rezone the property to R-1,” he said. “You would have to build the house to our R-1 subdivision development standards.”
Furthermore, the overlay district forbids new residential developments in the corridor from being constructed out of vinyl siding, unfinished cinder blocks, metal siding or aluminum siding.
Peggy Martin, of Acworth, spoke in favor of the overlay district.
“It’s safe to say this community has had trouble helping itself, and it needs rules and assistance now and then,” she said. “We’re known for backsliding down there in that southeast corner … so this overlay is a step forward.”
A 30-year-plus resident of the Allatoona Community, Martin said the area has been “held hostage” by a lack of oversight.
“There’s not a lot of regard or consideration for residential health or business health or a sense of community, which may save that area, eventually,” she said. “We don’t want to perpetuate what’s happened to the area for years with indiscriminate placement and pop-ups of residential-to-commercial, back-to-residential-back-over-to-commercial … we just need things well-planned, well-developed and well-maintained, which is not where we are right now.”
C. Boyd Morris III, the chairman of the planning commission board, likewise praised the overlay proposal.
“We’re taking another step where it’s not just any rezoning, it’s going to be a quality rezoning,” he said.
The slate of ordinance amendments recommended by the commission at Monday’s meeting also included unanimous approval of a revision prohibiting digital billboards from being erected in the County, a revision reducing temporary office/retail trailers from 12 months to three months and a revision reducing R-8 residential district square footage to 7,000 square feet, with a minimum amenity area of 20,000 square feet.
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor will vote to approve or deny the commission’s recommendations at a public meeting at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, 135 West Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville, today at 10 a.m.