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Oakwood planners recommend design standards for 250-acre area
Land encompasses a largely undeveloped core of the city
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Oakwood took a major step Monday night toward setting development standards for a 250-acre downtown area, including the nearly finished Thurmon Tanner Parkway, as part of its Oakwood 2030 plans.

The city’s planning commission voted to recommend City Council’s approval of a 96-page document that cites specific requirements for the area, which encompasses a largely undeveloped core of the city and is bounded by the busy Mundy Mill Road and Interstate 985.

Standards address such matters as landscaping and signs and could vary among districts within the 2030 area.

The 2030 plan foresees construction of multiuse and commercial buildings as well as redevelopment of other, older parts of town.

“We’re trying to be proactive rather than reactive, trying to get control of development before it occurs, before we have some problem issues,” City Planner Larry Sparks said.

“As we grow, we’re going to have these standards in place so that we can shape the type of development and control it in the direction we want it to go.”

The new standards won’t require specific architectural styles, Sparks said.

“There is some flexibility with the development, but as far as setbacks, landscaping, signage and lighting, there will be a general overview of that.”

Highlights of the 2030 plan include an amphitheater, a multistory City Hall and a commuter rail station that would sit along the railroad tracks running through the heart of the town. It also features connecting trails, parks and green spaces.

The plan puts names on certain areas throughout town: Government Town Center, Town Commons, Main Street Village, Historic Neighborhood, Neighborhood Village and Commercial Center.

Thurmon Tanner Parkway, a four-lane road connecting Plainview and Mundy Mill roads and slicing through the downtown area, could be one of the first areas that sees the effects of the new development standards.

The road is all but finished, lacking mainly traffic lights and intersection work.

“As soon as it opens up, it’s going to create a change in traffic ... and growth patterns for Oakwood,” Sparks said.

B+C Studios of Cobb County worked as the city’s consultant on the project, with a contract paying the firm no more than $25,000.

City officials looked at other cities, such as Smyrna in Cobb County and Suwanee in Gwinnett County, that have adopted high standards for certain types of development.

For the purposes of its study, Oakwood stretched its boundaries a little beyond the 2030 plan to encompass a larger area.

“The idea is to have ... on the ground some of these developments that we went and looked at,” Sparks said.