Harlem city officials approved the final portion of the city's updated Comprehensive Growth Management Plan at Thursday's monthly city council meeting.
The third portion, the Community Agenda section of the plan, which includes information from the Community Assessment and Community Participation portions, includes a short-term work plan and will act as a guide for city leaders regarding decisions about future growth.
City council members approved the final portion to include language about the implementation of impact fees.
If impact fees are imposed, Georgia law requires that they be included in the comprehensive plan, Mayor Scott Dean said at the meeting. Impact fees are charged to developers based on certain costs that derive from new growth.
"Should we choose to implement impact fees in the future, we don't have to amend the comprehensive plan," Dean said, adding that the plan covers the next 10 years.
Dean said city officials do not intend to implement impact fees immediately, but the added language is a proactive step.
"It makes more sense to put it in there now," said Jason Hensley, an economic development specialist with the CSRA Regional Development Center, which compiled the plan for Harlem.
The plan will now go on to the state Department of Community Affairs for a 60-day review before being brought back before the city council for final approval.
City Engineer John McClellan, with G. Ben Turnipseed Engineers, informed the city council that the start of a long-awaited downtown renovation project is just around the corner.
The project will stretch along Louisville Road from Forrest Street to Church Street and will include installing an overlay material to preserve sidewalks and adding lighting poles and benches.
Curbside parking was removed, widening the road enough to accommodate tractor-trailers, and was replaced with a paved lot across from the Harlem Department of Public Safety. A second downtown lot behind the public safety building will be paved.
The $1.4 million project bid was awarded Nov. 7 and the plans were sent to the state Department of Transportation for final approval. McClellan said the next step is a notice to proceed with construction, which he expects soon.
"We really want to get this thing going," McClellan said, adding that he expects a pre-construction meeting to be scheduled for December and construction to begin at the beginning of the new year.
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