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Oakwood to look at specifics concerning 2030 plan
Designs include public-private development
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Oakwood plans to start setting up design guidelines for its ambitious 2030 plan, which involves public-private development in a core area of the South Hall city.

"There's a lot of choices we've got to (consider) to establish what we really want to see as a community," City Manager Stan Brown said.

The city has tapped B+C Studios of Cobb County as its consultant on the project, with a contract paying the firm no more than $25,000 and completion of the guidelines expected in six to seven months.

Initially, Oakwood had planned to do such an "overlay" study of Thurmon Tanner Parkway, a four-lane road under construction between Plainview and Mundy Mill roads. City Council even put a moratorium on development through January while that work was done.

"The more we got to looking into this, the more it made sense (to consider a larger area) if we truly want our 2030 plan to come to fruition," Brown said.
So, the scope was enlarged to cover the 2030 area - some 250 acres surrounding the city's center at Railroad and Main streets - and a bit beyond, including to Mundy Mill Road and Interstate 985.

The 2030 plan foresees construction of multiuse and commercial buildings on large chunks of now-vacant land throughout the city, as well as redevelopment of other, older parts of town.

Highlights of the 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.

The city has a 2030 master plan showing a map and "kind of what we want the area to look like," Brown said.

The upcoming study will get into more specifics.

"Each one of those areas have a different character and characteristics of how they should develop, how we want roadways to look and how we want landscaping to occur," Brown said.

With residential, for example, "we're not talking about taking existing properties and putting an extra burden on them," he added.

"We just want to make clear that when things develop in the future, (they) would follow a sort of planned development. We could have an opportunity to influence how (the area) would develop."

The city has done a similar project with H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway, which connects McEver Road to a completed section of Thurmon Tanner Parkway.

That work involved looking at such characteristics as landscaping, lighting, fencing and parking lots.

"We'll be looking at how we'll be pulling in the public's involvement too, hopefully using the Internet and going on Facebook in January," Brown said.

The results could reach the city's planning commission in April and City Council in May or June.

In the meantime, "we don't see a need to hold up (the Thurmon Tanner) moratorium beyond January," Brown said. Besides, "the development process is kind of slow right now."

At the council's Dec. 13 meeting, Mayor Lamar Scroggs asked about the possibility of expanding the study area even farther.

Brown said a smaller area would be easier to manage, but a larger area could be considered later.

"This is a huge bite we're taking right here," he said.

Scroggs was OK with that. "This is a good starting point, and we've got to start somewhere," he said.