BY KRISTI REED
After 18 months of work, the Barrow County Comprehensive Plan for 2007-2027 is complete.
Barrow County Commission Chairman Doug Garrison said the plan is a valuable resource for managing the county’s growth.
“Tonight is a culmination of a long process that began in 2006 when we started down this road for renewing the comprehensive plan,” he said. “We need this road map because of how fast we’ve been growing. This will be an excellent tool for us to use in the future as we grow.”
The purpose of the plan is to present a community vision for the future and provide a way to implement that plan, according to Lee Walton of MACTEC engineering.
Walton’s presentation to the Board of Commissioners highlighted the most important aspects of the comprehensive plan and identified several community issues and opportunities for Barrow County and its municipalities.
Walton said the issues facing the county include rapid population growth, job-housing imbalance, limited long-term water supply source, few transportation alternatives and traffic congestion.
With these issues come opportunities for improvement. The comprehensive plan lists revitalizing downtown areas, protecting scenic byways, protecting the environment and creating transportation alternatives as important considerations over the next 20 years.
The issues and opportunities identified in the plan were combined to form a future development map which provides specific recommendations for land use for each portion of Barrow County.
Barrow County Planning Director Guy Herring said the map serves as a guide for commissioners when questions of zoning and infrastructure placement are brought before the board.
Following the comprehensive plan presentation, Marta Rosen of Jacobs Carter Burgess discussed the county’s transportation plan.
After a study of existing conditions within the county including traffic volume, safety features, pavement condition, pedestrian access, rail and aviation availability, Rosen said it is critical that Barrow County look at interim solutions to its traffic problems.
“It’s going to cost a lot of money to provide transportation in the future at the same level it is today,” she said. “Money is going to be short. Barrow County needs to continue to look at interim solutions.”
With congestion expected to worsen drastically by 2030 and truck traffic through Winder projected to increase by 103 percent, Rosen said a cross county route is needed.
Several state routes converge in downtown Winder. This concentrates thru traffic in a small area, increasing congestion and lengthening travel times for commuters.
The transportation study concluded that approximately 8,000 vehicles per day could be attracted to a cross-county route which would divert traffic around Winder.
In order to construct the cross-county route, the county would need to pave shoulders, widen roads, straighten sharp curves, increase site distances and improve intersections of existing roads.
Rather than attempting to undertake such a large project at once, the proposed route has been divided into nine segments and prioritized according to need.
“These are basic improvements that are implementable by the county,” Rosen said.
All governments within the state of Georgia are required to adopt a comprehensive plan. Once Barrow County’s comprehensive plan is adopted by the municipalities within the county, it will come before the Barrow County Board of Commissioners for final adoption. The board is scheduled to vote on the plan at its August 26 meeting.
In other business, the Board approved the following:
• a request to rezone 4.29 acres on Old Thompson Mill Road from AG to AR for a single family home.
• a request to rezone approximately one acre at 913 Old Thompson Mill Road from AG to R-1 to build a single family residence.
• a special use permit to allow plastics recycling at 738B Tucker Road.