Jasone Gaines, 33, the new planning and development manager of Clarkston said his goal is to attract more quality development to the city.
Gaines who worked for Cobb County the last seven years, started in its community development agency then transferred to its transportation department. He said working for Clarkston is “light years” different than working for a much larger city.
When the Clarkston City Council voted to become a city manager form of government, Gaines said, it made a decision to move the city in a different direction, which is one of the things that attracted him to the position.
“The great thing about Clarkston is that this is a clean slate. When City Manager Keith Barker came here he had to put simple things in place such as an employee handbook, policies and procedures for human resources and employment, things like that,” Gaines said.
Since Gaines was hired seven weeks ago, he said he’s been busy establishing policies and procedures to help streamline the process of getting things done in the city, whether it’s rezoning property, applying for variances or administering the building permit process.
One of Gaines’ first goals as planning and development manager is to rewrite portions of the city’s zoning ordinances to make it easier for city staff, residents and potential business owners to understand.
“There are some things in the ordinance, from my perspective that are a bit restrictive, some things particularly in the sign ordinance that could be a big hindrance to businesses in some situations,” Gaines said.
“From a general standpoint we want ordinances to err on the side of being less restrictive especially in a time like this when the economy is still trying to rebound. We want to attract business to the city and investment, development and construction.”
Gaines said during the next several years, the city’s focus will be improving or removing some of the more blighted properties, both commercial and residential, in the city. He said he also sees a lot of room for growth as new walking and bike trails are built in the city.
“We’ve got the PATH foundation trails that come through the city and we’ve already got some great bicycle traffic coming through but with that expanded trail we’ve got some opportunity to establish some features for those who use the facility like a bicycle depot or a bike shop, rental bikes, restaurants, smoothie bars and snack bars...Clarkston could be a perfect pit stop for someone riding on the path,” Gaines said.
Although Gaines wouldn’t discuss any specific development projects currently under way, he said Barker had a vision to grow the city, not just in terms of revenue generation or tax base, but in terms of size as well.