The Newnan City Council approved a continuation for the proposed Caldwell Tank development during Tuesday’s meeting.
“This whole city has an opportunity to make their wishes known,” said Mayor Keith Brady. “We want to seek a point of convergence in the economic viability and the consensus of community vision.”
A series of public meetings is scheduled to allow community input. The dates are July 25, Aug. 6 and Aug. 15. All three meetings will be held at Newnan City Hall at 6:30 p.m.
Following the meetings, a vote will be taken at the Aug. 27 meeting of the Newnan City Council at 6:30 p.m.
Residents, both for and against the development, addressed the council during the meeting.
Longtime resident and owner of Sportsdome, Cal Stotler, said the project is on par with keeping downtown a vibrant destination.
“We’ve done streetscapes, we enjoy the local events – all these things are designed to bring people downtown,” he said. “This project would do just that. It’s the crown jewel of what we’ve been trying to do.”
Opponents said the density issue is hard to ignore, and the development could possibly compromise the heart and soul of downtown Newnan. Gary Martin, a downtown resident, said similar developments in Decatur have been detrimental to the spirit of the area.
Several opponents of the development cited the fact that the entire 6.7 acres in the rezoning application is in the Cole Town Historic District.
The Cole Town Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places, which is governed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Opponents of the development said the rezoning application does not meet the criteria of a historic district – jeopardizing the designation.
Tracy Dunnavant, the city’s planning and zoning director, said the project would not result in the delisting of the historical district.
“Districts are looked at as a whole and assessed equally,” Dunnavant said. “Homes are just as significant as business buildings.”
Councilmembers levied several questions to Developer Kurt Alexander, inquiring about the possibility of reducing the number of units and alternatives for the 1-acre property on East Broad Street. The 1-acre property directly abuts a vacant lot that would have been transformed into a three-story, 48-unit apartment development.
Mayor pro tem Cynthia Jenkins said she was concerned the apartments would be inconsistent with the single-family units on East Broad Street on the other side of the tracks from Caldwell Tanks.
When asked about the possibility of townhomes instead, Alexander said his company specializes exclusively with apartments, but could prep the site for another developer.
Councilman Ray DuBose asked why Alexander chose downtown Newnan instead of another area closer to the interstate.
Alexander said the demographics and growth curve for downtown are appealing, and cited the walkability downtown as a major reason.
“With these communities, the rent is 20 percent higher than average, and it’s the downtown experience,” he said. “That’s where trends are heading. We think it can be a success.”
Brady said the issue of the development is “complex” and the decision to allow the project to continue would have a multi-generational impact.
Citing initiatives such as downtown streetscapes, the new Newnan City Hall building, the Greenville and First Avenue parks and the UWG Newnan Campus, Brady said the city takes a long-term view on developments.
Because the information presented during the meeting was only made available to council late last week, the council unanimously approved the continuation of the meeting to learn more about the project and explore options through a series of public meetings.
“I believe it would helpful for council, citizens and staff to fully explore the issue,” Brady said.