GGMP committee joins Zoning Fray; Hilltop Memorial Auction to Begin in March | Government

The Greatest Generation Memorial Park committee met last Thursday and added another element to the ongoing overhaul of Thomaston’s dated zoning bylaws. The committee tabled a resolution to create a specific designation for parks and green spaces in the updated zoning bylaws.

Committee members, including chairwoman Kay Hightower, have expressed concerns about the development of parks in Thomaston. Hightower commented that an area designation for parks will “declare” that the city and community support and protect parks, with the intention of adding a layer of protection if an investor wishes to develop park land.

Doug Head, GGMP committee member and Mayor Pro Tempore, said GGMP is an “incredible gift” to the community and the council is “committed” to parks.

Hightower expressed concern that ongoing development in Thomaston was putting the parks at risk. She cited examples from Forsyth County where explosive development has limited the amount of green space available. Creating a parks and recreation area would prevent these spaces from being lost, according to Hightower.

City Manager Russell Thompson questioned the need for a parks area designation. Zoning creates regulations for land use, but what use should be regulated in public parks? If the city wants to change the use of parks, zoning won’t prevent that, he said.

Hightower did not disagree that the city had the right to alter the use as it wished. However, she expressed that the intention behind the designation was not to bind future city councils, but rather to declare for the future why the parks were here.

Thompson and the committee reached a compromise to draft a proposal that includes a parks area and present it to the GGMP committee on Tuesday, March 1. The committee will discuss and edit it before the city council meeting the following Tuesday. The project would create a parks and recreation area and designate the portion of the land use to city park ordinances. City ordinances are contained in Chapter 98 of the City Code.

• Director of Public Works, Kyle McGee, informed the committee that prequalifications are almost complete for contractors who will build a public art memorial commemorating Thomaston Mills and Martha Mill. McGee said bidding will begin March 7, end April 14, and the contract will be awarded in late April or May.

• Economic Development Coordinator Taylor Smith detailed plans for the Thomaston Art and Soul Festival using the GGMP. The vendor fair, scheduled for April 23, will be held in the grove of pines that stretches north of the reservoir. Smith revealed plans to have multiple vendors, as well as interactive exhibits lining the trail through the pine grove.

Laura J. Boyer