Morgan reviews development on county line
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Members of the Morgan County planning staff reviewed last week documents for a proposed 1,000-acre, 2,600 residential unit development that could be built just south of the Morgan-Putnam county line.
Putnam Properties Holdings, LLC, will require a zoning change from Putnam County that would allow the mixed-use development to be built in what is currently a rural area anchored by the intersection of Highway 441 and Price Road in Putnam. The development’s size and scope triggered a “Development of Regional Impact” study, coordinated by the Middle Georgia Regional Development Center (RDC) in Macon.
“If you pull the data from the [comprehensive] plan, it has roughly the same number of…houses as Madison,” said Morgan County Senior Planner Allison Moon. “It’s a new city.”
After receiving comments from the Georgia DOT, the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Savannah District Regulatory Division, the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, and Morgan County, the Middle Georgia RDC concluded that the new development would be “in the best interest of the Region and, therefore, the State.”
Moon noted that the southern portion of Morgan County is slated in the Morgan comprehensive plan to remain rural; in Morgan, large-scale development is not expected to be permitted south of the Madison Lakes residential development on Highway 441 south of Madison. Concerns for agriculture and other rural operations were noted in Morgan’s comments to the DRI.
“This is not the pattern of land use Morgan County anticipates in this area,” wrote county planners.
The Middle Georgia RDC recommends “that Putnam County work with Morgan County officials to resolve this concern to the mutual benefit of both parties.”
The new development could spur the installation of a number of miles of private water lines in northern Putnam County, which could in turn have ramifications for southern Morgan County and future residential development there.
“This is something that we see over and over again—development follows water lines,” said Moon.
Currently, the county requires developers to tie onto public water lines if the residence is within a certain number of feet of a water main. But the county might consider adding to those regulations to a provision that would require county permission to tie onto private water lines as a way of controlling growth in areas adjacent to other counties.
County officials are also concerned with the execution of various mutual aid agreements that Morgan shares with Putnam vis-a-vis responses to fire, traffic accidents, and other emergencies. A large development just south of the county could require a significant amount of Morgan County resources supplied to residences of another county.
No timeline for the construction of the new development was presented in the DRI documents. Morgan County is not in the Middle Georgia RDC’s area of service; Morgan County is served by the Northeast Georgia RDC, based in Athens.