News from Around the State – District Two

District 2 has been updating plans, trying to use that work for innovative opportunities and implementing a few unique projects as well. If any of the following initiatives or projects would benefit your work or jurisdiction, please let us know and we can make some connections.

City of Doraville

Exhibition Hub, a gallery focused on large-scale, temporary exhibits of various subject material, opened in the City of Doraville this year. They are probably most well-known for their immersive art exhibits focused on the life and work of famous artists. Previously, Exhibition Hub was in Pullman Yards in east Atlanta, but moved to a permanent location in Doraville earlier this year.

The facility was difficult to classify, but fit best as a “cultural institution,” which includes uses like museums, galleries, libraries, etc. The project went before Council to acquire what Doraville calls an “accessory alcohol license.” The Doraville City code previously only allowed alcohol licenses alongside food service, but last year Council adopted language that permits accessory licenses so long as alcohol service is clearly subsidiary to the main use. The facility took over a large building on Buford Highway that has been vacant for some years.

The City has had a larger push in the past couple of years for more public art and art-related activities. Examples of progress in the arts include creating an Art Master Plan and application for private or public murals; implementation of the BuHi Walk, a dual-purpose art walk and pedestrian connectivity plan that connects the existing sidewalk network to businesses and shopping centers; installing a city dinosaur statue; and establishing a relationship with DArt (Doraville Art).

City of Monroe

Late last year, the City of Monroe rezoned an older development that the city had purchased several years ago to a Planned District for a mixed-use development. The site was an old shopping center with a lot (really, a lot) of parking. The city has repurposed some of the building for the City’s new police department and city court location. Another portion of the shopping center building will house some telecommunication facilities for the city with proposed construction on old surface parking for commercial and mixed-use residential construction. 

The city created a pattern book which was adopted with the project, including a description of the project. The location is unique as it is outside the growing downtown district and along an older commercial strip that needs reparative design solutions and development patterns.  If you have questions about the project or to see the pattern book, please reach out to Brad Callender, Planning & Zoning Director for the city.

Athens-Clarke County

The Athens-Clarke County (ACC) Sustainability office is helping lead the way, along with sustainability representatives from Atlanta, Decatur, DeKalb and Savannah, on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and the Rate Case presented by Georgia Power to the Public Service Commission (PSC). It is the first time that a coalition of local governments has come together to advocate for the community members of the municipalities that we represent. While the IRP has ended, we are now in the Rate Case portion of the proceedings.

The rate case sets the rates for the next three years for Georgia Power. Georgia Power is looking to increase their rates by 12% on the average residential household by 2025. The rate case looks at several other programs and sets goals and limits for these programs during the rate case as well. The coalition has submitted testimony providing recommendations on four topics:

  1. Expansion of its electric transportation programs and proposed changes to the “Make Ready” program to make smaller sites eligible. Prioritization is currently given to large sites.
  2. Changes to their Community Solar program. As it is seen by Georgia Power, the Community Solar program is a premium service with a premium price. We as a coalition are asking for a lower price on the premium service and the dismantling of the rate structure which adds “riders” such as coal and Plant Vogtle construction.
  3. Ensure that all commercial customers have access to hourly interval data free of charge. Right now, commercial customers who want hourly data pay a $50 fee per meter per month.
  4. Reject Smart Usage tariff. Georgia Power asserts that this new tariff provides ways to save, but it ends up making things confusing for even the most involved home energy manager.

Lastly, the PSC moved net metering to the rate case, so again, we are pushing for an expansion of customers that can sign up for monthly net metering. Please get involved. Public comment is welcome at hearings. Visit the Public Service Commission’s website.

City of Covington

The city recently contracted with Urban3 to conduct a revenue analysis to accompany their five-year Comprehensive Plan update. The work by Urban3 highlighted the most productive parcels in the city, forecasted true life-cycle costs of infrastructure, and provided a trove of data for Covington to use in making development decisions going forward. The work was capped by a visit from their principal, Joe Minicozzi and a variety of presentations to staff, citizens and city council.

Northeast Georgia Regional Commission

The Northeast Georgia Regional Commission (NEGRC) is updating the Regional Plan for the 12-county Northeast Georgia region. The Regional Plan includes goals and policies, development maps, needs and opportunities, performance standards, and a work program for the region.

In June 2022, the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission published Housing Guidelines for the Northeast Georgia region to assess local housing needs, identify appropriate housing types, and recommend strategic policy amendments to address regional housing needs.

The City of Oxford adopted a Complete Streets & Trails Plan in October 2022, developed with assistance from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission. The plan includes sidewalk, trail, and bike lane improvements, and it also shows recommended potential connections with Covington and Newton County transportation networks. Continuing to expand the city’s parks trail system and complete streets infrastructure for bicycling and walking is a priority for Oxford, as identified in the Goals and Policies of its Comprehensive Plan. The city has already begun to implement the Complete Streets & Trails Plan, having recently applied for grant funding to support the development of a new multi-use greenway.