Published Wednesday, January 02, 2013
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
A report is expected soon from the Georgia Conservancy – with design ideas and estimated costs – for the south Coweta town of Moreland.
The final report, expected later in January, will bring to a close a Blueprints for Successful Communities effort that began more than a year ago. Moreland Mayor Josh Evans has been a booster of the project, which brought a team of Georgia Institute of Technology graduate students to visit the town.
Those students made recommendations that were tweaked and expanded by the Georgia Conservancy staff. “If we really get behind this, there’s a lot we can do,” Evans said at a Blueprints overview meeting.
The process began in late 2011. Carol Chancey, who works through the Moreland Cultural Arts Alliance to promote tourism in Moreland, connected Katherine Moore, who coordinates the Blueprints project, with the town.
Data collection began in December 2011. A series of visits by students and meetings with community residents followed during the past year.
“At the end of this process, we will have a report we will hand off to you,” Leah Barnett of the conservancy said at a recent meeting in Moreland. Johanna McCrehan of the conservancy told town officials the report document is something the organization will “hand off back to you sometime in January.”
McCrehan said the overall goal of the Blueprints proposals will be to keep Moreland’s rural ambience while planning for a future that includes growth and change. Local residents will “want to be in control of that” when it occurs, she said.
“Why do we undertake this?” Moore asked. “We know change is going to come. Is change going to happen to Moreland, or is Moreland going to direct that change?”
Pope and Land owns a large tract of land that runs from the north town limits to Interstate 85. Newnan’s expansion also will impact Moreland’s future, conservancy staff said.
McCrehan pointed to the likelihood that sewer will likely be available in Moreland when the Pope and Land tract is developed. Sewerage would enable types of development not currently possible.
She said there are “things you want to start planning for” with those possibilities in mind. Even if sewer does not come to the town, the plans will be “good for future growth,” McCrehan said. “You have to take ownership of what’s happening in the future.”
Moore said money helps to make projects happen, but she also addressed the human involvement. “You do have to have some money to do things, but you have to have people with vision,” she said.
At a meeting in Moreland, she told residents and town leaders “your will – your political will, your energy” will be the key to the success of the Blueprints endeavors.
“It’s not just about having a pretty little town. It’s about Moreland’s future,” Moore said. She noted that – in Blueprints meetings – local residents made it clear they do not want their town to “become an indistinguishable part of Coweta County or of an expanding Newnan.”
The Blueprints document will lay out “some very specific steps,” Moore said.
Planting a tree canopy is one of the proposals. “That would immediately show change,” Moore said. “That would invigorate your residents.”
McCrehan said a goal is to get people to linger as they pass through town, “even if they are not going to stop.” The tree canopy “gives you an immediate feeling of a place,” Moore said.
The Blueprints proposal has several facets that relate to making more of the town square an open greenspace – including moving the Erskine Caldwell birthplace away from the square and eventually the Coweta County Fire Department’s Moreland station.
The plan also includes a proposal for new subdivision regulations that would allow for more dense development in some parts of town. “You can welcome more people because Moreland is never going to be Manhattan,” Moore said.
People “relocate here because of” the rural character of the place, coming to Moreland because of what current residents already like, Moore said. Having more density means more people and the likelihood of more businesses and services for the convenience of residents and the growth of the tax base.
Moore said the conservancy will provide “a limited number of hard copies” of the report, which will also be available online. “You can use that as your roadmap to move forward,” she said. “We’ll be on call for technical support to help you move forward with the next steps.”
Moore recommended “a task force or a committee, an implementation committee... might be formed.” She suggested that group meet monthly to monitor progress with meeting Blueprints goals.
There needs to be “a sense that someone owns the Blueprints report” and thinks about it regularly, she said.