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Shoring Up Canton’s Future

 As you may have heard, the City of Canton is in the process of purchasing the remaining 325 acres of undeveloped property at The Bluffs that surrounds the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir. Pending the final survey and title work, the purchase will hopefully be completed by the time this article is published.

Originally intended as a technology park, even before the reservoir and dam were proposed, this old forest land is beautiful and a great investment for our citizens. Over the years, the area slowly transitioned toward residential, and the City began receiving more interest in additional projects including more multifamily units. However, your mayor and council think this area is very special and should be developed carefully and minimally in the future, especially around the reservoir. While we cannot always control other private zoning matters, we have absolute authority as landowners of this property. In other words, we purchased the 325 acres to make sure it develops in accordance with our roadmap and citizens' wishes.

Earlier this year, the City contracted with HGOR to do an analysis of the reservoir buffer to catalog the existing landscape and topography and to propose potential recreational uses in the area. While we refer to this location as a reservoir, the area is actually a pristine 411-acre lake with 14.5 miles of shoreline that was constructed to provide safe drinking water for Canton and Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority. The goals set forth in the Reservoir Management Plan include the preservation of the natural state of the forests, shorelines, wetlands, wildlife, and water quality while providing recreational uses to the broader community without greatly impacting the ecosystem.

This exciting plan will include walking trails and overlooks around the entire shoreline of the lake, along with additional recreational opportunities for parks, camping, swimming, fishing, sailing, zip-lining, and eco-educational activities. The study identified 11 distinct coves in the reservoir, all with unique features and natural diversity. It also documented hundreds of thousands of native plants, flowers, and trees in the area, but it found no evidence of ANY invasive species in the buffer area. The pristine conditions of the reservoir and buffer are priceless, and our citizens will be able to enjoy the natural wonder for many years.

Granted, this project will be a huge undertaking, probably stretching over two SPLOST periods, but the benefits and investment in this area are worth the effort. In addition to the recreational possibilities, there is also a potential site for a future gravity-fed water plant and even more grand tourism products such as an upscale waterfront resort and conference center. Once the deal is officially closed, we will embark on a master plan process for The Bluffs property and reservoir, including ample public input and participation.

While we often get criticized for growth and development, I hope you agree this strategic acquisition and reservoir master plan is a bold step forward in shoring up Canton's future as the Coolest Small Town in America!
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