Questions?

What is the Salem Overlay?

An overlay is a kind of zoning that applies in addition to your normal zoning.  Counties can use overlays to help create quality development by regulating things like architectural details, color palettes, sidewalks, and street furniture to create a more consistent look. Newton County employed The Collaborative Firm to help create an overlay that would guide development to meet the community’s vision for the Salem Road Corridor, including the 2050 plan.

 Where does the Salem Overlay apply?

Please see the map titled Newton County Salem Overlay District Tiers

When was this process started?

The overlay process started in May of 2012 and has been an ongoing process with extensive public outreach and communication with many different members of the community (see the next question for more detail)

What efforts were made to contact the community?

In order to maximize community participation in the Salem Road Overlay District, the design team employed an extensive public engagement over the last several months. These efforts included:

  • Establishing a stakeholder group comprised of community representatives, including business representatives, HOA presidents, Salem Campground, various property owners, Newton County Staff and elected officials.  This group met several times during the planning process to help guide the process and make sure that the overlay document was appropriate to the Salem Community.  They also assisted with spreading the word about the overlay and the public meetings throughout the community.
  • Two public meetings were held to gather input (one in June and one in November)
    • A color ad was placed in the Covington News for both public meetings
    • Homeowners’ associations were used to help notify their membership of public meetings
    • Flyers were posted and left a dozens of businesses along the corridor before each meeting
    • Flyers were posted at the County courthouse and County offices
    • Notices of meetings were posted on the County’s website
    • Put notices for public meetings on the Public Educational and Government television channels
  • A project website was created to keep the community informed of upcoming meetings and to provide an opportunity for the community to provide feedback outside of the public meeting setting.  The website is frequently updated with presentations and notes from the meetings (both public meetings, as well as stakeholder meetings).  We also used the website to conduct a survey for which we received over 100 responses.
  • A business focus group was held to provide business owners in the community with an opportunity to learn about the overlay and provide input.
  • A work session was held with the Newton County Board of Commissioners and the Planning Commission on 11/19/12 to discuss the overlay.  This meeting was open to the public.
  • A public hearing was held by the Planning Commission on 11/27/12 to discuss the overlay and take public comment.

If I am in a subdivision with vacant land, will those vacant lots be built to the new standards?

The current draft of the overlay specifies that if subdivisions have already been subdivided at the time the overlay is adopted, the overlay does not apply So unless the entire development is being developed the vacant lots are not subject to the overlay requirements.

If I am in a single-family subdivision with vacant land, can a developer build townhouses or apartment buildings?

As mentioned above, the current draft of the overlay specifies that if subdivisions have already been subdivided at the time the overlay is adopted, the overlay does not apply So unless the entire development is being developed the vacant lots are not subject to the overlay requirements.

If I own a home in the overlay and it is destroyed by an Act of God, can I rebuild it as is?

Your question is largely addressed by section 530 of the existing zoning code. Essentially, any property that is damaged by an Act of God where the damage is less than 75% of the latest value established by the county can be re-built as is. The difference is that after the overlay passes, any damage exceeding 75% would mean that the property would have to be subject to the rules of the overlay. However, there is a provision in section 530 that allows you to maintain the same square footage. Additionally if you are located in subdivision that precedes the overlay, then the overlay requirements will not apply to you.

Can I repair and maintain my home without triggering the entire overlay requirements?

Normal repair and maintenance of residential structures is allowed without change. If you are located in a subdivision that was created before the overlay, then the overlay does not apply to your property. If however, your property is not in a subdivision and you build an accessory structure or garage the structure should match the main building and not follow the other requirements in the overlay. There are a few other conditions that may cause the overlay to apply:

1)    If you plan on increasing the floor area by 50% once the overlay is passed, then you may need to alter the building to comply with the overlay. Again this does not apply to subdivisions created before the passage of the overlay.

2)    Relocating an existing structure to the overlay would cause you to alter the structure to meet the overlay requirements

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