COVINGTON — A long-term moratorium on development of single-family housing on new lots of less than 2 acres is under consideration by the Newton County Board of Commissioners.
The board heard a presentation from Development Services Director Judy Johnson at a Sept. 14 work session in which Johnson recommended the moratorium in order to slow residential development while the county updates its Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The moratorium would not apply to construction on existing lots less than 2 acres.
The county has had a moratorium on all new single-family developments since January. The moratorium, which has been extended twice, is set to expire Sept. 21.
A vote on the proposed longer-term moratorium is expected at the BOC’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Historic Courthouse.
“This moratorium would be for a sufficient amount of time while we are in the planning process for our Comprehensive Plan and Future Lane Use Map update to show us how our areas have changed, are changing, what needs are in the areas of change, does what we have in place guide where we think development should be occurring,” she said.
Johnson said the moratorium would not stop all residential development, but it would allow the county to address density issues. In addition, she said, it will give the county time to analyze where growth should take place, taking into consideration the availability of public safety services, schools and infrastructure. She recommended the moratorium be put in place for nine months.
Commissioners in District 1, District 3 and District 5 expressed support for a residential moratorium on lots less than 2 acres. Commissioner Alana Sanders, District 3, said she believes the lot size restriction would help reduce density in her district on the western side of the county, where residential development has been among the heaviest.
Johnson noted that subdivisions that are already platted would not be affected by the lot size moratorium, a fact that she said could encourage developers to build out neighborhoods where vacant lots remain.
County Manager Lloyd Kerr said the moratorium could move the type of residential development in the county away from tract builders and toward custom-building, which would result in higher quality homes that would attract executive level buyers.
Commissioners also discussed an exception to the moratorium that would allow property owners to subdivide larger tracts to build homes for family members.
Johnson said Development Services will hold public hearings in each district in the county throughout the process of updating the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.