Wilkinson County, Georgia
Wilkinson County is located in the central part of the state, north of Interstate 16 and south of
Interstate 20, along Georgia's Fall Line which divides the Piedmont from the Coastal Plain. The
county is approximately 100 miles southeast of Atlanta and 35 miles east of Macon. Wilkinson
County was created in 1803 from Indian lands ceded in 1802 (and the later 1805 cessation) as the
28th Georgia county, and named for a veteran of the Revolutionary and 1812 Wars, General James
Wilkinson. The county courthouse is located in the city of Irwinton; there are five other
municipalities, Allentown, Gordon, Ivey, McIntyre, and Toomsboro.
In recognition of the benefits to be derived from the articulation of a shared vision for their future,
Wilkinson County and the cities of Allentown, Gordon, Irwinton, Ivey, McINtyre, and Toomsboro
have prepared this joint comprehensive plan in compliance with the Georgia Planning Act of 1989.
It is intended to serve as a guide for local decision makers, giving them a base from which to make
solid decisions about the direction the county and its municipalities take into the 21st century.
In order to achieve a useable plan that addresses the need of various communities involved in this
plan, each participating local government advertised and held a public hearing, the objective of
which was to identify the needs of each local community. Following these hearings, the county and
cities formed a joint planning committee which, in conjunction with the Middle Georgia Regional
Development Center, determined the order and priority of the needs identified at the hearings. From
this list, goals and objectives were established, together with a strategy to achieve those goals.
The plan has been prepared in compliance with the Minimum Standards and Procedures for Local
Comprehensive Planning as established by Georgia law and is divided into three distinct parts:
Inventory and Assessment; Goals and Objectives; and the Implementation Strategy with the Five-Year Short Term Work Program. While the information provided in the Inventory and Assessment
section is presented in combined form for the county and the municipalities, separate and distinct
statements of goals and objectives, with specific work programs, have been developed for each
The Inventory and Assessment section is comprised of the following six planning elements:
* Economic Development
* Natural and Historic Resources
* Community Facilities and Services
* Land Use--Existing and Future
These elements describe and evaluate the current conditions in the county and six municipalities in terms of basic characteristics and conditions, taking into account existing socio-economic variables, governmental services and land uses. From this information, any future development and projected growth potential is deduced and used to from the basis for the Goals and Objectives and Five-Year Short Term Work Program of the plan.
The Goals and Objectives for each government clarify what these governments hope to achieve in
the future. These items express the objectives the local leaders hope to accomplish as the items in
the Short-Term Work Program are completed. The items outlined in the work program detail
specific actions the cities and the county will take and the time-frames in which they plan to
accomplish them. It should be noted that the plan is written in a flexible format that allows for
amendments necessary to take advantage of unanticipated changes in current policies.
Because the future of a community rests in the hands of its citizens,, no plan can be realized unless
it is supported and faithfully implemented by the community. This plan is only a guide to the future,
and it is the responsibility of each community and its elected officials to ensure that the plan is
adhered to and used as a road map to bring it to fruition.
The 1990 Census reported a total population of 10,228 for Wilkinson County, which was nearly a
nine percent increase over the 1970 total of 9,393. Table II-1 charts the Middle Georgia region's
growth rate at twice that of Wilkinson County over the two decades, while the state's population
increased at a rate of 40 percent. The county's growth rate was slightly higher than the region's
growth rate in the early 1970s. However, the county's growth rate dipped three percent from 1975
to 1980, which was half the regional growth rate. Although the rate increased slightly again in the
early eighties, population declined over five percent in the last half of the decade.
B. POPULATION TRENDS
Ivey gained more population than any other Wilkinson County community from 1970 to 1990,
followed by McIntyre. Much of the growth within these communities was attributable to
annexations and other economic factors. Irwinton, Gordon, Allentown and Toomsboro lost
population over the course of the past two decades. Table II-1 shows population changes in each
community, the region and the state.
Allentown lost 22 people, declining more than seven percent between 1970 and 1990--with nearly
15 percent of the decrease concentrated in the 1980s. The City of Gordon is the largest municipality
in Wilkinson County, with a population of 2,468 in 1990. Gordon gained population in the '70s and
early '80s, but lost residents in the last half of the past decade, largely due to downturns in the kaolin
industry. The city lost 300 residents from 1980 to 1990, declining nearly 11 percent. The entire
county was losing residents during this period while the region and state were maintaining stable
Irwinton, the county seat, showed Wilkinson County's largest population decline--more than 15
percent from 1970 to 1990. The town's population decreased 24 percent from 1980 to 1990,
following a decade with an 11 percent growth rate in the seventies. Many residents sought more
prosperous communities for better job opportunities during the recession in the eighties.
The town of Ivey posted steady and dramatic population gains throughout both of the past two
decades, adding over 800 residents at a growth rate of nearly 130 percent. Ivey out paced regional,
state and national growth averages, jumping from a population of less than 250 to over 1,000
residents. The community doubled in population each decade largely due to the development of the
Holiday Hills Country Club on Lake Tchukolaho.
McIntyre, located southwest of Ivey and Gordon, experienced a population decline between 1970
and 1980 followed by a dramatic period of growth in the late '80s. While McIntyre lost 18 percent
of its population in the 1970s, it gained 166 residents to grow 43 percent between 1980 and 1990.
The community's dramatic population fluctuations reflect the rise and fall of the kaolin industry,
which is integral to the local economy. Industrial development in the later portion of the decade
contributed to some of the community's growth.
Toomsboro also declined in population. The community lost nine and a half percent of its residents
from 1970 to 1990, with the bulk of the decline in the early '80s. This decrease can be attributed to
weaknesses in the community's economic base, due to closings and cutbacks in some kaolin mines,
as well as the national economic recession.
Source: 1990 Census and Middle Georgia Regional Development Center
The number of households in Wilkinson County increased only eight percent from 1980 to 1990,
while the household growth rate for the state was 26 percent. Wilkinson County's average
household has traditionally remained larger than the state average, but a gradual reduction is
expected through the turn of the century. While the number of households in Allentown has only
increased slightly from 1980 to 1990, the average household size is growing. Although average
household size in Gordon is becoming smaller, the number of households is projected to maintain
a slow rate of decline for several years.
Irwinton's population loss is reflected both in its trends of reduced household size and declining
numbers of households. While declines in the number of households are expected to continue, the
average household size is rising again and is expected to surpass the county average by the year
2000. Ivey, the fastest growing municipality in the county gained households at a rate of 122 percent
between 1980 and 1990, and is expected to add nearly 500 more within the next 20 years. Ivey's
average household size is the lowest in the county and is significantly lower than the State of
Georgia. It is an atypical pattern for a small town, reflecting Ivey's emergence as a growing, affluent
community. While McIntyre lost population in the '70s, it posted a 43 percent growth rate in the
'80s which was paralleled by a 30 percent increase in the number of households. This town is
expected to slowly increase over the next two decades due to an influx of people from the
unincorporated areas of the county.
Source: 1990 U.S. Bureau of the Census
D. POPULATION PROJECTIONS
These projections are based on the assumption that similar socio-economic factors affecting
population growth since 1930 will continue to influence patterns over the next 20 years. Though the
projections represent only one of a number of possible outcomes, they still provide a rationale upon
which basic planning policies can be developed. Furthermore, the projections serve to measure the
effectiveness of the policies promoted in this plan and may be monitored for future planning efforts.
The population projections through the year 2015 in Table II-4 suggest that Wilkinson County's
population growth rate will lag behind the region's. However, these projections are based on the
county's historic trends since 1930, and are influenced more by the population decline from 1940
to 1960 than recent trends. It is likely that the completion of the Fall Line Freeway will influence
population growth in the northern parts of Wilkinson County. The four-lane divided highway will
link Columbus, Macon and Augusta, providing a new crossing over the Ocmulgee River. A growing
population in the northern unincorporated areas will increase the demand for infrastructure and
Although Irwinton, McIntyre and Toomsboro could receive some secondary population expansion
from new developments in and around the unincorporated northern portion of Wilkinson County,
it will be many years before such changes will have a dramatic effect on these communities. The
cities' central county locations are affected more by trends in nearby counties and the region than
secondary growth within Wilkinson County. Because these communities , with the excepton of Ivey,
have little indigenous economic activity and generate very limited internal population expansion,
they are expected to remain at or below recent peaks through the year 2015.
E. COMPONENTS OF POPULATION CHANGE
Population growth and decline in any community can be divided into two basic components. Natural
increase or decrease is derived from the numeric difference between live births and deaths in a
community. If the number of live births exceeds the number of deaths, there is a population increase.
Otherwise, there will be a decrease. The second component, net migration, is derived from the
difference between the number of new residents moving into a community and the number of
residents moving away from the community.
These two sources of growth are important considerations when planning for the future of any
community. For example, a community whose growth is due entirely to in-migration may have a
greater demand for new homes than a community whose growth is caused largely by natural increase.
With population increases due to in-migration, a community will gain households which will need
new homes and jobs. With population expansions due to natural increases, families are more likely
to require improvements to existing housing stock, child care facilities and other infrastructure.
Data on vital statistics are compiled for different communities by the state's Center for Health
Statistics, but are not available below the county level for the communities as small as the towns in
Wilkinson County. While the county has recorded a substantial number of live births over the past
decade, the high infant mortality rate of nearly 14 percent from 1986 to 1990 out paces the state by
a full percentage point. The majority of the county's growth over the past decade is attributable to
natural increase, which exceeded the rate of out-migration.
However, population growth during the 1980s in Allentown, Ivey and McIntyre did not impact
overall growth trends due to the heavy out-migration experienced throughout the county. In fact,
population declines and out-migration patterns indicate that residents of the unincorporated areas,
Toomsboro, Irwinton and Gordon may be leaving the community in search of more fruitful
employment opportunities in other areas. The construction of the Fall Line Freeway is anticipated
to slow out-migration by improving access to neighboring commerce centers and fostering industrial
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
F. POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS
An analysis of population characteristics will provide additional insight into the factors influencing
local population changes. Age, race, sex, income and education characteristics of the population
greatly affect local demand for public facilities, housing and employment opportunities.
1. Age Distribution
Table II-6 shows population distribution by age for the unincorporated areas of Wilkinson County.
A large percentage of the unincorporated population falls within the ages of 0-14 and in the 55 or
older segment. The median age in the unincorporated areas increased from 27.5 in 1980 to 31.2 in
1990, keeping with the statewide median age for the same time period, which increased from 28.6
to 31.5. This trend is expected to continue as the "Baby Boomer" population ages and medical
technology extends life expectancy. The unincorporated areas experienced an increase in its senior
citizen population, along with a decrease in the number of children under 15 years of age. The trend
towards a smaller youth population may be influenced by the tendency among the "Baby Boomer"
generation to delay starting families, and it is expected that the population of school aged children
may be skewed in the coming decade. Historic trends and short-term forecasts suggest that
Wilkinson County and its cities will experience little or no growth in its working age groups.
However, trends toward a rising population of senior citizens and high infant mortality rates suggest
increased demand for social services and health care facilities.
Source: Woods and Poole Economics, Inc., 1990
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc., 1994
The out-migration of Allentown's prime working age population raises serious concerns for the
community in its efforts to attract and retain employers. The community's size and general trend
toward population downsizing emphasize the loss of even a few individuals each decade. Allentown
lost over nine percent of its working age residents in the past decade. Consistent with the national
trend of an aging population, the percentage of the population represented by elderly residents has
steadily expanded from a low six percent in 1970 to nearly 18 percent in 1990.
AGE DISTRIBUTION TRENDS
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
The city of Gordon is experiencing the same problems as Allentown and the unincorporated areas
of the county. The working age population dropped five percent since 1980, as people left the
community in search of improved employment opportunities. The senior population comprised an
increasingly larger portion of Gordon's total residents, growing 68 percent from 1970 to 1990.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Irwinton's working age population decline is consistent with trends in each of the Wilkinson County communities. With the loss of almost 12 percent of the prime labor force over the past decade, the community's wage earners have become a disproportionate segment of the population. The aging population and school age children comprise over half the residents, creating heavy demand for social services, health care and education facilities.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Ivey is the only Wilkinson County community which gained working age residents between 1980
and 1990. While residents aged 25 to 65 comprised 52 percent of the population in 1980, a 134
percent growth rate among this group brought the proportion to more than 53 percent. Compared
to the general trend of a dwindling labor pool in the county, a full percentage point increase
representing 322 workers is even more significant. The senior population represents a comparatively
small share of the community, and its dramatic percentage increase during the past two decades is
primarily due to the unusually small number of people over 65 in 1970.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
McIntyre's aging population has become a larger share of the total community as it has in the county
at large. Declines in both the share and growth rate of the 55 to 64 age group suggest that the senior
population in McIntyre will remain disproportionately small, compared to other Wilkinson County
communities. A 12 percent growth rate in the working age segment fueled the community's
population expansion in the '80s which turned the community around after a decade of decline.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Toomsboro's 22 percent decrease in working age residents from 1980 to 1990 reflects the overall
population decline the community has experienced over the past two decades. It is interesting to
note that the only two non-senior age groups to add population were also within the primary working
age segment. The experienced workers aged 45 to 64 represent the principle losses, which is a very
likely result of out-migration during the recession. The small size of the community emphasizes the
loss of even a few individuals, both statistically and economically.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
2. Racial Distribution
Table II-13 shows over 42 percent of Wilkinson County's 1990 population is black. The white
population represents nearly 58 percent, and less than one percent is comprised of other ethnic
backgrounds. Less than one percent of the total population is of Hispanic origin. Black population
increases during the 1980s were followed by a decline of nearly seven percent from 1980 to 1990.
The trend suggests that out-migration was more prevalent among minorities, which may indicate that
the minority labor force was dramatically affected by downturns in kaolin mining and the
ramifications of the economic recession. While losses in the Hispanic population appear statistically
large, the relatively small number of residents significantly inflates the rate of change. Although
growth in the white population was posted throughout the past two decades, the expansion rate in
the 80s was eight percent slower than from 1970 to 1980.
Population decline at the county level is concentrated more heavily among the minority segments.
However, population loss among whites out paces decreases in blacks and other ethnic groups in
Allentown, Gordon and McIntyre. Growth in the non-minority population base was concentrated
in Ivey, where the white population increased 137 percent as a result of the Holiday Hills Country
Club development. While the white population remained the majority in most areas of the county,
blacks and other ethnic groups comprised nearly equal portions of the residents in Gordon and
McIntyre. Moreover, the non-white segment of the population comprised the majority in Irwinton
(57 percent) and Toomsboro (55 percent).
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Historic and recent income levels for Wilkinson County and Georgia are shown in Tables II-20
through II-22. While both per capita income and average household income for the county remain
well below the State averages, the rate of rising income levels is comparable. Since 1970, income
levels have risen an average of 14 percent during five-year intervals. Both tables below are measured
in 1995 dollars.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Education levels are important when assessing the adequacy of the local labor force to meet the
needs of potential employers. They also measure the effectiveness of the local school system.
Tables II-23 through II-32 show comparative data of the educational levels and attainment completed
by persons 25 years of age or older. According to the data, the city of Irwinton had the highest
percentage of persons completing four years of college. The tables also reveal that despite minimal
increase in population, a greater percentage of residents are graduating from high school and
Table II-31 shows the enrollment and dropout statistics for Wilkinson County and the State of
Georgia. In the county while enrollment has decreased by 71 students, the number of dropouts have
increased from 35 in 1990 to 66 in the 1993-1994 school year. Overall, the percentage of dropouts
in Wilkinson County has remained comparable to the state dropout rate.
Another measure of educational performance can be taken from basic skills tests. Since 1983 the
Basic Skills Test scores have remained consistently below the state average scores. Based on these
figures, it appears that the educational attainment and achievement has not kept pace with the state's
increasing average test scores. Improvement in these areas is critical to the county's and towns'
quality of life, and their capability of attracting employment opportunities. Attracting new employers
is essential for each city to share in the growth that will come to the area, as well as to improve
household and family income levels.
This improvement in test scores could be brought about by an increase in dollars spent per student
in the Wilkinson school districts. An increase in funding would allow for a lower student/teacher
ratios and better equipment. Possible sources for this funding are the new Georgia Lottery
educational revenues and increased taxes.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
ENROLLMENT AND DROPOUT RATES FOR WILKINSON COUNTY
AVERAGE BASIC SKILLS TEST SCORES
FOR WILKINSON COUNTY AND GEORGIA
G. SUMMARY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Wilkinson County and its communities should establish public policy to address the following factors:
1. Out-migration of the communities' workforce;
2. Increasing proportion of retirement age citizens;
3. The wide gap between high income and low income families; and
4. Declining performance on standardized achievement tests.
The out-migration of the communities' workforce in Wilkinson County is exacerbated by the lack
of employment opportunities. By establishing a policy of attracting industries to the county through
economic development programs, Wilkinson County will eliminate the necessity of out-migration
for its residents. Industrial development in the county will provide the employment opportunities
desired by residents, and result in a decrease in the workforce's out-migration. Employment
opportunities in surrounding communities will continue to attract a considerable number of
Wilkinson County commuters, but the rate and effects of the out-migration may be abated with
improved economic development initiatives.
One of the largest population segments of Wilkinson County is the senior citizen population. In fact,
the senior population comprises the largest segment of the population in each community of
Wilkinson County. As the population of retirement age residents continues to increase, Wilkinson
County will be faced with meeting the special needs of the aging. Health care, senior citizen centers,
personal care homes and multi-family homes and other social service facilities will face increased
demand as the Wilkinson County senior population expands. The county has begun to address the
needs of this group by constructing a county senior center; however, further actions should be taken
to meet the needs of these residents.
Wilkinson County appears to have a significant number of citizens who earn wages well below the state and national averages. In order to reverse this trend, the communities should set policies that would encourage growth in high wage jobs. Economic development in the county would also serve to improve the employment opportunities available in each of the communities. Policies to promote education will also serve to decrease the gap between high-income and low-income families in Wilkinson County. Wilkinson County is in commuting distance of a number of post-secondary institutions and possesses an adequate library system. Libraries should be promoted as learning centers with an emphasis on continuing education. Along with encouraging continuing education in the community, policies should also promote the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) which will help individuals increase their earning capability.
The land use element summarizes many of the ideas and policies stated in other elements of this
Comprehensive Plan. This element consists of the following:
1. Inventory of Existing Land Use Element,
2. Assessments of Existing Land Use, and
3. Summary and Policy Implications.
The existing land use element inventories and evaluates the land use patterns that exist within the
county and determines how current land use may affect future development. It describes types of
uses and geographic distribution and attempts to analyze the manner in which these uses developed
over time. In addition, it examines the influence of demographic trends, economic development,
natural features, and the community's history on physical development.
No recent significant development has occurred in Wilkinson County. Though the census showed
Ivey's population as growing in the last two decades, this growth is due largely to annexation.
However, with the construction and completion of the Fall Line Freeway, Ivey could expect
significant growth in population.
A major portion (93%) of Wilkinson County is devoted to agricultural and forestry land uses. Since
these types of land uses contribute immensely to the economic well being of the county, citing of
future land use should take into consideration the protection and preservation of these uses.
B. EXISTING LAND USE
A windshield survey was conducted to determine the distribution of existing land uses within the
communities. The information collected was recorded on county and city tax maps and transferred
to computer-based maps for analysis. The resulting existing land use map is at the end of this text
labeled "Existing Land Use." Due to scale limitations, not all land uses will appear on this map.
The following land use classifications were used to categorize existing development patterns:
Existing Land Use Map1- Insert Here
Existing land use map2 - insert here
existing land use map 3 - insert here
existing land use map 4 - insert here
existing land use map5 - insert here
existing land use map 6 - insert here
existing land use map 7 - insert here
The land acreage devoted to each land use category was calculated through the application of a GIS
program to the tax maps used in the survey.
As shown on Table 3.1 below, over 90 percent of the land use in unincorporated Wilkinson County
is used for agriculture and forestry, while industrial and residential uses consume 2.64 and 1.83
percent of the county's land, respectively. Other land uses were insignificant when compared to
agriculture and forestry uses.
Land Use Wilkinson County Acreage Percent
Residential 5,307 1.83%
Commercial 219 .08
Industrial 7,634 2.64
Public/Institutional 690 .24
Transportation/Communication/Utilities 74 .03
Park/Recreation/Conservation 715 .25
Agriculture/Forestry 263,599 91.12
Vacant 273 .09
Incorporated Areas 10,769 3.72
Source: Middle Georgia Regional Development Center, 1995.
1. Residential Land Use
Residential land use includes single-family units, multi-family units, and mobile homes. Of the
residential dwellings in the county, 70 percent are single-family residential, 27 percent are mobile
homes, and 3 percent are multi-family residential. In the past five years, only a few residential
developments have occurred in Wilkinson County. These developments were mainly mobile homes,
located in the county between the cities of McIntyre and Irwinton.
2. Commercial Land Use
Commercial lands are lands dedicated to non-industrial business uses. They include retail sales,
service, entertainment, and wholesale trade facilities. Approximately 219 acres (.03%) of land are
dedicated to commercial land use in the county. Most of these uses are comprised mainly of gas
stations and small food stores.
3. Industrial Land Use
These are lands dedicated to manufacturing activities, processing plants, warehousing facilities,
mining or mineral extraction activities, or other similar uses. These uses comprise 2.64 percent
(7,634 acres) of the land in the county. The majority of industrial lands used for kaolin mining is
land intensive. Most of the mines in the county are located in the northwest and northeast regions
of Wilkinson County.
4. Public/Institutional Land Use
Lands classified as public/institutional include certain federal, state, or local government land
facilities such as city halls, police and fire stations, libraries, prisons, post offices, and other related
uses. Institutional uses on the other hand include colleges, churches, cemeteries, and hospitals. In
Wilkinson County, these uses consist mainly of churches and cemeteries, many of which are
scattered throughout the county. Lands dedicated to public and institutional uses comprise only one
quarter of a percentage (690 acres) of land in the county.
Transportation/communication/utilities category includes land which is occupied by transportation
facilities and public utility installations. Radio and television transmission facilities also are
included in this category. In 1992, the total road mileage including state routes, county roads, and
city streets in Wilkinson County was 518 miles, of which 346 miles were paved. The amount of
county roads has not changed significantly in the past three years. The CSX Rail Line bisects the
county accounting for 33 miles of rail.
6. Park/Recreation/Conservation Use
This refers to lands dedicated to active or passive recreational uses and accessible to the general
public. These areas may be either publicly or privately owned and may include playgrounds, public
parks, natural preserves, wildlife management areas, national forests, golf courses, recreation centers,
and similar uses. Approximately .25 percent (715 acres) of land in the county is reserved for these
uses. During the past few years, Wilkinson County has begun to play an active role in providing
recreational opportunities for its citizens. The County has begun construction of a recreation
complex near Irwinton. Gordon has a recreation complex provided by the City.
These are lands dedicated for farmlands, pastures, livestock production, commercial timber, and
pulpwood harvesting. Approximately 91 percent of the county's land is dedicated to this kind of use.
Of the 263,599 acres of land in this category, 249,406 acres are forested timberlands. Other
agricultural products growing in the county include corn, soybeans, peanuts, wheat, oats, rye, and
sorghum grain, and each yields sizable income for the community. In addition, a modest number of
cows and hogs were raised in the county. Between January 1991 and January 1993, the county raised
an average of 2,600 cattle, and between December 1990 to December 1992, it raised an average of
1,000 hogs and pigs.
The percentage of land used for agriculture is not expected to change significantly by the year 2015.
However, by the construction and completion of the Fall Line Freeway, a decrease in this land use
category may occur.
8. Vacant/Undeveloped Land Use
This category is intended for land that has never been developed for a specific use, or land that was
developed for a particular use, but later abandoned. The county had approximately 273 acres, or .10
percent, of total land area in this category.
Table 3.2 displays the land use acreage for the city of Allentown. Figures exhibited in this table
show 66.84 percent (752 acres) of the land in the community is used for agriculture and forestry.
Presently, this category of land use is predominant in the community; however, with projected
population growth, more lands will be needed for residential activity, thereby reducing the land for
agriculture and forestry. This, though, does not have to be the trend; as with proper planning, lands
left as vacant or undeveloped could be used for residential.
Currently, one percent (11 acres) of the town's land is committed to commercial uses, and this land
is expected to increase by the year 2015 if current trends in population growth continue.
Approximately .80 percent (9 acres) of land is dedicated to industrial use, while .89 percent (10
acres) is dedicated to public and institutional uses. Park/recreation/conservation uses utilize 0.27
percent (3 acres), while 18.49 percent (208 acres) is used for residential development.
Transportation/ communication/utilities employ .18 percent (2 acres), and 11.55 percent (130 acres)
of the community's land is vacant or undeveloped.
Land Use Acreage Percent
Residential 208 18.49%
Commercial 11 .98
Industrial 9 .80
Public/Institutional 10 .89
Transportation/Communication/Utilities 2 .18
Park/Recreation/Conservation 3 .27
Agriculture/Forestry 752 66.84
Vacant 130 11.55
Source: Middle Georgia Regional Development Center, 1995
Gordon is the largest city in Wilkinson County, which is evident in the large percentage of residential
lands in comparison to the other communities. As indicated in Table 3.3, approximately 26 percent
of Gordon's land area is committed to residential use. This percentage covers 870 acres of land.
Agriculture and forestry usage consumes 46.4 percent (1,573 acres) of land used primarily for timber
growing and kaolin reserves. The amount of land devoted to park/recreation/conservation is very
insignificant, but land devoted to industrial uses represents 20.65 percent (700 acres) of the
community's total land area. Public and semi-public uses occupy 1.21 percent (41 acres), while
transportation and communication uses represent .38 percent (13 acres) of Gordon's total acreage.
Commercial land use is significant when compared to the rest of the communities, utilizing 2.09
percent (71 acres) of the community's lands. Vacant and undeveloped lands in the city occupy
approximately 4 percent (120 acres).
Land Use Acreage Percent
Residential 870 25.66%
Commercial 71 2.09
Industrial 700 20.65
Public/Institutional 41 1.21
Transportation/Communication/Utilities 13 .38
Park/Recreation/Conservation 2 .07
Agriculture/Forestry 1,573 46.40
Vacant 120 3.54
Source: Middle Georgia Regional Development Center, 1995.
Table 3.4 illustrates Irwinton's land use classifications. According to data presented in this table,
agriculture and forestry uses consume approximately 78 percent of the community's land area.
Residential land use is the second highest with 17.07 percent of its total land coverage. No land is
used for industrial, evident in Irwinton's loss of jobs and population as discussed in the Population
and Economic Development elements of this plan. Lands for park/recreation/conservation uses and
commercial uses represent 0.10 percent and 0.76 percent, respectively.
Land Use Acreage Percent
Residential 358 17.07%
Commercial 16 .70
Industrial 0 .00
Public/Institutional 33 1.58
Transportation/Communication/Utilities 7 .33
Park/Recreation/Conservation 2 .10
Agriculture/Forestry 1,637 78.06
Vacant 44 2.10
Source: Middle Georgia Regional Development Center, 1995
The town of Ivey is the fastest growing community in Wilkinson County. As was discussed in the
population element section, Ivey has more than tripled its population within the last ten-year period.
Because most of the growth that occurred in this time period was a result of annexation and
development, the increase in population is not readily reflected in the community's population
density. However, residential land use acreage and percentage remain the highest in the county. As
illustrated in Table 3.5 below, residential land use covers approximately 529 acres (28.41%) of the
community's total land areas.
The table further shows agricultural and forestry uses representing 1,161 acres (62.35%). Again,
most of the lands consumed by this use category are used for timber and kaolin mining. Park/
recreation/conservation uses represent 136 (7.3%) of the community's total land acreage, 8 acres
(.43%) are used for commercial, while 7 acres (.38%) of land are for industrial uses. Public and
institutional uses consume 9 acres (.48%) of land, while transportation/communication/utilities uses
cover 7 acres (.38%). Vacant and undeveloped uses represent 5 acres (.27%) of the community's
Land Use Acreage Percent
Residential 529 28.41%
Commercial 8 .43
Industrial 7 .38
Public/Institutional 9 .48
Transportation/Communication/Utilities 7 .38
Park/Recreation/Conservation 136 7.30
Agriculture/Forestry 1,161 62.35
Vacant 5 .27
Source: Middle Georgia Regional Development Center, 1995
Table 3.6 demonstrates, as with other communities in Wilkinson County, agriculture and forestry lands consume the greatest percentage of the land in McIntyre, representing 690 acres (63.42%) of the community's land. Residential land use is the second highest, occupying 191 acres (17.56%) of the community's land. Park/recreation/conservation land uses represent 3 acres (.28%) of the community's land. Commercial land uses account for 15 acres (1.38%) of land, while vacant and undeveloped lands represent 90 acres (8.27%) of the total land available in the community. Transportation/communication/utilities consume .27 percent of the total land use, while industrial land use occupies a significant 7.2 percent of the community's acreage.
Land Use Acreage Percent
Residential 191 17.56%
Commercial 15 1.38
Industrial 79 7.26
Public/Institutional 17 1.56
Transportation/Communication/Utilities 3 .27
Park/Recreation/Conservation 3 .27
Agriculture/Forestry 690 63.43
Vacant 90 8.27
Source: Middle Georgia Regional Development Center, 1995
Table 3.7 shows that 829 acres (68.68%) of land in Toomsboro is devoted to agriculture and forestry
uses. Residential land use consumes 267 acres (22.1%) of land, while industrial land use represents
27 acres (2.2%). Park/recreation/conservation uses represent 31 acres (2.57%), while public/
institutional uses consume 17 acres (1.41%) of lands in Toomsboro. Approximately 10 acres (.83%)
of land in the town is used for commercial.
Land Use Acreage Percent
Residential 267 22.12%
Commercial 10 .83
Industrial 27 2.24
Public/Institutional 17 1.41
Transportation/Communication/Utilities 8 .66
Park/Recreation/Conservation 31 2.57
Agriculture/Forestry 829 68.68
Vacant 18 1.49
Source: Middle Georgia Regional Development Center, 1995
C. EXISTING ZONING
Neither Wilkinson County nor Allentown, Irwinton, Ivey, McIntyre, and Toomsboro have adopted
any form of zoning. The only community with a zoning ordinance is Gordon, which adopted its first
zoning ordinance in 1975 and revised it in 1994. The Town of Ivey is considering preparing a
zoning ordinance to guide its rapid development.
D. SUMMARY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Wilkinson County has remained relatively static over the past decades, hence the pattern of land use
has not altered greatly. Since there has been a decline in population and housing units in most
communities, lands which were originally devoted to housing are currently vacant or, in some cases,
under agricultural uses. Throughout Wilkinson County, the predominant land use category is
agriculture and forestry. Residential use is the next largest category, followed by industrial, public/
institutional and communications/transportation/utilities uses. The remainder of the land uses
occupy very insignificant proportions of the total land area.
Most communities in Wilkinson, such as Irwinton, Toomsboro, Gordon, and McIntyre, face
declining population and economic base. To reverse this trend, these communities should plan for
economic development and growth. One method could be by developing policies that would help
in attracting industries to the areas. Such industries could include home-based businesses,
commercial development, or light industrial development that uses kaolin as raw material. In
addition, attractive residential opportunities should be used by these communities to retain and
While developing policies for achieving population and economic growth, the communities should
take into consideration land use related factors that could influence new developments. As growth
occurs, the impact on surrounding land uses of any new development on adjoining properties
becomes more obvious, making relationship between adjoining uses important in determining the
values of individual properties and resulting in future investments in the communities. To rectify
this, Wilkinson County and its incorporated governments, except for Gordon, should adopt a
comprehensive land development ordinance which includes a zoning ordinance to help regulate
Any zoning ordinance or land use plan should strive to protect future land uses for transportation access, environmentally sensitive areas, and other types of land uses. An analysis of soil suitability and nature of slopes should be an important determinant in the location of future land uses. For instance, agricultural and forestry uses should be located in areas with the most productive agricultural soils to ensure that such areas are not overtaken by urban type developments. Fragile areas, such as wetlands, should be conserved; but if they must be developed, they could be used for passive recreation.
A. NATURAL RESOURCES
Approximately 100 million years ago, Wilkinson County was covered by water, the Fall Line being
the water's edge. During the Eocene Age the water receded and left assorted soils, sandy soil layers
in various topographic formations, depending on its geographic location. Generally, the topography
of the county is undulating, more so in some parts of the county than others.
Cretaceous soils are found in northern Wilkinson County, closest to the Fall Line and part of the
Piedmont, where the land is very hilly. Below the "Fall Line Hills" begins the Coastal Plains section
of the state, the land flattens out somewhat, cris-crossed with streams and bordered by the Oconee
River. In this section of the county, streams have eroded the land into flattened ridges divided by
valleys. It is in this area, below the Fall Line Hills, that the tertiary sands are found and with that
sand, much of the kaolin which supports the local mining industry.
In addition to kaolin, other extractable minerals found in the county are bauxite and Fuller's earth.
The Fuller's earth is found in a band across the Fall Line, but it is not mined due to its poor quality.
Bauxite is often found with kaolin deposits in Paleozoic sediments. An aluminum oxide, bauxite
is used for alum, abrasives, and aluminum products, but is not mined extensively in the county.
This section is intended to provide a basic understanding of the natural resources of the county and
includes sections on the plants and animals, geology, soil types, water resources, environmental
constraints, and other natural resources which may be present in the county. The information
presented will enable local governments and development agencies to develop a resource
management system and make informed decisions when planning for the future of Wilkinson
b. Regionally Important Resources
There are no designated Regionally Important Resources in Wilkinson County nor its incorporated
a. Bedrock Geology
Wilkinson County and its incorporated governments are located along the Sand Hills section, or Fall
Line, between the Piedmont Plateau and the Coastal Plain. The majority of the county lies within
the Coastal Plain, as does approximately three-fifths of the state. The rocks underlying the Coastal
Plain are primarily sand and limestone with clay layers mixed in, and sit on crystalline rock
formations. The northern part of the county, that of the Fall Line, is made up primarily of Cretaceous
soils, while the southern section, the Coastal Plain, is primarily of the Eocene Age.
b. Mineral Resources
Kaolin is the most abundant mineral, and the most important economically, in Wilkinson County.
This white clay is located throughout the sedimentary deposits of the county, especially in the tertiary
sands. Uses for this clay include paper, paint, inks, china and porcelain, ceramics, toothpaste,
medicines to aid digestion, and other industrial and personal uses. According to the China Clay
Producers Association, Inc., paper and packaging products are the foremost users of Georgia's
Because of the importance of this mineral to the county's economy, much emphasis is given to the
industry's well-being. Although only about five percent of the county's land is actively being dug
for kaolin, much more land is held in reserve by the kaolin companies for future activity, and a great
deal of this reserve land is in planted pine trees.
The soil types of Wilkinson County which have been identified by the U.S. Soil Conservation
Service are indicated on Map IV A.1, a general soils map of the county. For more detailed, area
specific soil information, refer to the Soil Survey of Washington and Wilkinson Counties Georgia
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service.
Dominant soil types found in the Coastal Plain sector of the county share sandy layers; some have
loamy surface and subsurface layers. These soil types are:
Along the Oconee River and the creeks which cross the county are the floodplain soils which range
from well drained to poorly drained. These soils are made up of the following:
b. Erosion Potential
Erosion is a major concern in those sections of Wilkinson County with slopes greater than 2 percent,
which translates to the majority of the county. Most of the soil types have slopes between 2 and 8
percent. This is a problem especially where the sandy layer of topsoil has eroded away, leaving the
clay underlayer either exposed or close to the surface. All soils of Wilkinson County are classified
as having "slight" management concerns for erosion. Those soils with the greatest slopes have the
greatest potential for erosion if not managed properly, including the planting or maintaining of
ground cover. Faceville soils have the highest erosion susceptibility.
The Georgia Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act of 1975 established a statewide erosion
control program. This act enables each county to adopt an ordinance regulating activities under their
jurisdiction to prevent erosion and sedimentation problems. Certain activities are exempted from
this act, including surface mining operations and quarrying. The Act set forth a number of minimum
standards which must be considered when preparing a local ordinance, including:
c. Prime Agricultural and Forest Land
Approximately 293,000 acres of the county is forested, primarily as planted pine trees with some
hardwoods. A 1989 U.S. Forest Service survey established that 249,406 acres were forested
timberlands. Specific usage of the acreage in 1989 was:
The latter two types of growth are commonly associated with bottom lands, primarily along rivers
and creeks and wetland areas.
The Orangeburg, Lucy, and Faceville soils of Wilkinson County are particularly suitable for the
growing of loblolly, slash, longleaf pines. In these soil type areas, management concerns of these
forests are slight to moderate, making the commercial production of these trees desirable. These
forests are of great importance to both the environment and economy of the county.
Very little of the land in the county is used for farming. The 1992 Census of Agriculture reported
that only 31,838 acres were in farms, or 11.1 percent of total county acreage. The soil types
Orangeburg, Faceville and Dothan soils are considered prime agricultural soils and comprise
approximately 65,0000 acres. Soil in the county supports the cultivation of such crops as corn,
peanuts, wheat for grain, and soybeans. No appreciable amounts of cotton or tobacco are grown in
Wilkinson County. In the nineteenth century, cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, and grains were grown.
In 1982, less than 15 percent of the county was planted in crops and less than 10 percent was used
for pasture lands.
By its very nature, the mining industry is detrimental to the forests and the general landscape. Consequently, reputable mining companies revive and reclaim for future use the lands they dig. In Georgia, by law, an acre of land must be reclaimed for each acre mined at a cost of approximately $1,700 per acre to the mining company. In the process of reclamation, companies backfill the holes to conform with adjacent topography in order to maintain as closely as possible the "look and feel" of the area. Terraces are often constructed to prevent erosion. In reclamation, commercial forests are planted as well as vegetative cover to act as erosion control and to provide wildlife habitat.
General Soil Map- Insert Here
d. Suitability for Development
(1) Steep Slopes
Slopes greater than 25 percent are shown on Map IV A.2. The majority of the county has slopes
ranging from two to eight percent, with erosion a cause for concern in some areas. Care must be
taken in both agricultural and mining practices to prevent erosion from occurring. A sedimentation
and erosion plan for the entire county would be a step toward preventing harm to the natural
resources from erosion.
(2) Flood Hazard Areas
Floodplains in the county follow the lines of the Oconee River and its tributaries and feeder streams.
Soils in these areas are Chewacla-Chastain-Congaree and Bibb-Kinston, range from well-drained
to very poorly drained, and are those commonly found in floodplains. Ivey, Gordon and Irwinton
participate in the FEMA National Flood Insurance program. Predominant zones throughout the
county are Zone A and Zone AE. Map IV A.3 shows the general floodplain delineations of the
In the FEMA classifications, base flood elevations for 100-year flood were not determined in Zone
A but have been for Zone AE. In Ivey, effective 1986, the areas along Lake Tchukolaho and
Commissioner Creek were classified as Zone A, as were the areas along the northeast and
southeastern city limits. The remainder of the city of Ivey is classified as Zone C. In Gordon, lands
along Little Commissioner Creek and its tributary are designated as Zone A and AE. In Irwinton,
along Town Branch, Bear Camp Branch and two separate areas near the city limits north and south
of U.S. 441, floodplains are defined as Zone A.
For FEMA purposes, Ivey is Community-Panel 130420 0005 B, Gordon is Community-Panel
130259 numbers 0001-0002, and Irwinton, Community number 130440 A. Toomsboro and
McIntyre do not participate in the FEMA program but are delineated by the Federal Insurance
Administration of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They are recorded as
community numbers 130422 and 130421, respectively.
Limited residential development has occurred in the floodplain in Ivey. Generally the floodplains
across the county have not been affected by the development so flooding has never been an issue for
the residents. Since there is no problem there is very limited support for any sort of protection of
floodplains. However, floodplain protection will be considered when a comprehensive land
development ordinance is prepared. There are no planned activities within the county which will
have positive or negative impacts on the floodplains.
(3) Poorly Suited Soils
Soils throughout the county are generally well suited for development. Those which have
environmental constrains to development are shown on Map IV A.4.
4. Water Resources
a. Water Supply Watersheds
The nearest water supply intakes are on the Oconee river at Milledgeville to the north of Wilkinson
County, and the Oconee River at Dublin to the south of the county. Neither of these affect
b. Groundwater Resources
(1) Water Supply
There is an abundance of groundwater throughout Wilkinson County, with numerous streams found throughout the county. Big Sandy Creek, Commissioner Creek, Little Commissioner Creek and Black Creek are the major tributaries of the Oconee River. Natural and man-made lakes dot the county. The largest is Lake Tchukolaho in Ivey, a man-made lake circled by residential development.
Water supply for municipal and industrial usage is from wells drilled into the cretaceous aquifer.
The domestic water supply outside of the municipalities is from private wells. The major water use
in the county is for the kaolin industry, followed by residential use. Commercial and agricultural
practices are minor users of groundwater, with only 306 acres under irrigation in 1990. The kaolin
industry withdrew 16.52 mgd of groundwater in 1990, compared to .93 mgd for public (primarily
residential) usage. In 1980, the clay industry withdrew 13.14 mgd, with .82 mgd going to public
(2) Recharge Areas
Wilkinson County sits on a Cretaceous aquifer which is a significant groundwater source providing
water for that portion of Georgia along and below the Fall Line. There is sufficient quantity of fresh
water available from this aquifer. While the county does not depend on a water supply watershed
for its drinking water, attention must be given to protecting the water supply for the citizens of the
county. Because of the importance of the aquifer, and the need for clean, safe drinking water not
only in Wilkinson County but across the state, recharge areas must be protected.
The Criteria for Protection of Groundwater Recharge Areas of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria address the protection of recharge areas. Map IV A.5 shows the groundwater recharge areas in Wilkinson County. Because of the size of recharge areas and the fact that they do not conform to jurisdictional boundaries, protection and conservation must be approached on a regional as well as county-wide basis.
Wilkinson County is criss-crossed by numerous streams and creeks, most of which feed into the
Oconee River to the east. Throughout the county are wetlands, some as small as one acre or less,
others 20 or more acres. The majority of the wetland areas are found along the Oconee River and
its primary tributaries of Commissioner Creek, Big Sandy Creek, and Little Commissioner Creek.
Small wetlands of less than five acres can be found throughout the county. Some of these have resulted from kaolin impoundments such as those around the lake in Gordon which was created by Englehard Kaolin. In Ivey, the wetlands are primarily at the northern end of Lake Tchukolaho, moving up Commissioner Creek, but others can be found along Beaver Creek. In Toomsboro, the wetlands follow Commissioner Creek as they do in McIntyre.
Slopes and wetlands map - Insert Here
Recharge areas map- Insert Here
poorly suited soils maps- Insert Here
With few exceptions, these wetlands are of the Palustrine (non-tidal) system and are Scrub Shrub
or Forested (with deciduous trees or a combination of these with other growth as well). These areas
range from the seasonally wet to the persistent and semi-permanent varieties. Most are naturally
formed; however, many have been created either by beaver, man-made dams and dikes, or from
mining activities which created small ponds. Very few wetlands in the county are of the Lacustrine
system as found at Hodges Lake in the northeastern part of the county.
In the Rules of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division,
Chapter 391-6-16, regulations for the protection of wetlands are presented. This section, Chapter
391-3-16-.03, is the Criteria for Wetlands Protection and should be used with the Model Local
Wetlands Ordinance as a basis for any local ordinance adopted to protect wetlands. Additionally,
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act defines rules and procedures for development in wetlands and
along rivers. Wetlands are shown on Map IV A.2.
(4) Protected River Corridors
The Oconee River forms the eastern boundary of Wilkinson County, separating it from Baldwin
County to the northeast and Washington County to the east, with a small section bordering Johnson
County to the east.. Above and below the Wilkinson County portion of the river are found the water
supply watersheds for Milledgeville in Baldwin County and Dublin in Laurens County to the south.
This river, as the Middle and North Oconee rivers, begins in the foothills of the Appalachians and
becomes the Oconee River below Athens. Numerous creeks feed into the Oconee as it flows through
Wilkinson County, with wetlands along the majority of the river front. The river converges with the
Ocmulgee River below Dublin and forms the Altamaha River, which in turn flows to the Atlantic
Ocean at Darien.
As defined in the Criteria for River Corridor Protection from the Department of Natural Resources,
a protected river corridor is that land flanking Georgia's protected rivers, or those with "average
annual flow of at least 400 cubic feet per second." The Oconee River falls into this category and,
therefore, the county needs a River Corridor Protection Plan which establishes a protected buffer
along the corridor to protect wildlife habitats along the river as well as ensure continued supply of
potable water downstream. The buffer for the Oconee River is a minimum of 100 feet wide,
measured horizontally from the uppermost part of the river bank. Because no incorporated place in
Wilkinson County is located on the river, only the county is concerned with the creation of a
protection plan (see Map IV A.5).
The Existing and Future land use maps illustrate that the river corridor is not now developed nor is there any development projected to occur in that corridor. The predominant land use along the river is an Agriculture/Forestry classification, with small pockets of recreation nearby under the aegis of the Beaverdam Wildlife Management Area. The only local management strategy in place for the Wilkinson County portion of the river is that established by the Department of Natural Resources which oversees the three portions of Beaverdam WMA in Wilkinson County. The three controlled areas afford the river corridor some measure of protection from development since the county has no zoning and no other guidelines exist for controlling development along the river.
river corridor and 100' buffer zone map - insert here
Soil types along the river, the Chewacla-Chastain-Congaree types, are poorly suited for
development because of the flood hazards. They are well suited for some forestly practices, and as
such, are used in this way along the river in Wilkinson County. These soil types support extensive
wetland areas because they are generally poorly drained, are level and have a high probability of
flooding. The wetlands along the entire course of the river in Wilkinson County have allowed little
development to occur within the 100' buffer zone.
In adherence to the guidelines for a river corridor protection plan as established in the Criteria for
River Corridor Protection from DNR, the following are addressed:
1. Effects of Activities on Public Health, Safety, Welfare, and Private Property Rights
The Oconee River provides the water supply watershed for the city of Dublin in Laurens County,
downstream from Wilkinson County. Consequently, it is important that all efforts be made to protect
the quality of the water from pollutants whether natural or man-made such as agricultural run-off.
The county does not currently have a local Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance. Due to
the limited activity along the river, and the fact that no urban development exists along the
Wilkinson County portion of the river, erosion when it occurs is primarily from natural sources.
Land use activities currently are not having a negative effect on the river. If during the 20 year
planning period a pattern of development detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare is
identified, Wilkinson County will adopt and enforce a local Erosion and Sedimentation Ordinance.
In addition, protection of this river corridor will be considered in drafting land development
regulations when such regulations are prepared.
The Criteria for River Corridor Protection were created to improve public health, safety and welfare
while not infringing on private property rights. The allowed uses within the 100' buffer as
established by DNR provide for development while not being so restrictive that no development can
2. Conservation of Flora and Fauna
Although the potential exists for several specie of endangered, rare and threatened flora and fauna,
no such habitats have actually been identified in the county. The river corridor does not appear to
habe any unique or significant characteristics which would impact on the conservation and
movement of flora or fauna. If endangered species are identified within the river corridor, the
County will adopt and implement measures according to the DNR regulations to adequately protect
those habitats within the corridor.
3. Effect of Activities on the Function of the River and River Corridor
No activities are planned to occur along the river 100' buffer which would impede or otherwise
interrupt the flow and quality of the river. Erosion and shoaling have never been identified as a
problem within the corridor. The river is navigable only by recreational water craft.
4. Effect of Activities on Fishing or Recreational Use of the River Corridor
The current land uses along the river, recreation and timbering, are not having a negative effect on
the fishing and recreational use of the river.
5. Effects of Activities Either Temporary or Permanent, and Length of Time of Impact
There are no temporary nor permanent adverse activities taking place in the Wilkinson County River
6. Preservation of Significant State Historical and Archaeological Resources
No historic properties or sites sit along this stretch of the river. No significant archaeological sites
have been specifically identified within the 100' buffer zone of the river corridor.
7. Effect of Activities on Immediately Adjacent to Sensitive Natural Areas
Sensitive natural areas adjacent to the corridor include wetlands and floodplains. The county is
considering the creation of a comprehensive land development ordinance with zoning regulations
for the county. A local erosion and sedimentation plan when adopted will also further protect these
areas. Since there is no development occurring nor planned for the buffer area, there will be no
adverse impacts on adjacent areas.
As per the Criteria for River Corridor Protection, Wilkinson County shall allow for the construction
of single-family dwellings if:
Pre-existing industrial and commercial land uses within the buffer area are exempt from the
protection criteria if:
Septic tanks and systems are not allowed within the 100 foot buffer area except with single-family
dwellings which are constructed within the buffer zone. Within the river corridors, the construction
of road and utility crossings is permitted provided that construction of such crossings meets the local
and state regulations including those established by the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act of
Hazardous waste or solid waste landfills are prohibited from locating within designated river
corridors. Handling areas for the receiving and storage of hazardous waste also are prohibited within
designated river corridors. Port facilities are exempt from this criterion for two reasons. First, the
facility must meet all federal and state laws and regulations for the handling and transport of
hazardous waste. Second, the facility handling the waste must perform their operations on
impervious surfaces having spill and leak protection systems as prescribed by the Department of
The following are acceptable uses within the protected corridor provided they will not impair the
long-term functions of that corridor or its protected river:
a. activity is consistent with best management practices as established by the Georgia Soil and water Conservation Commission
b. activity does not impair the drinking quality of the river water as defined by the Clean Water Act (as amended)
c. activity is consistent with state and federal laws and regulations as promulgated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture
The Wilkinson County Board of Commissioners may exempt certain uses from the requirements of
the River Corridor Protection Plan. Other than these exempted activities and those noted previously,
all construction within the buffer area is prohibited. The uses which may be exempted are:
The exemptions as stated in the Criteria for River Corridor Protection are especially pertinent to the
county because of the dominant role both forestry and mining play in the county's economy. While
mining activities are not conducted within the 100' buffer zone, a considerable amount of the land
is used for forestry activities. While exempted, those involved with the timber industries should be
encouraged to adhere to best management practices and to the erosion and sedimentation regulations
on the state and local level to ensure potable drinking water in the water supply watershed intake
immediately downstream at Dublin.
The county needs to ensure that the Oconee River continues to provide safe quality drinking water
downstream, and to ensure the protection of any potential plant and animal habitats within the river
corridor. While some paragraphs of the Criteria are not pertinent, e.g. that concerning port facilities,
much of the criteria is important to the county and to the economic base established by the timber
industry. The quality of the Oconee River is important to the people and economy of Wilkinson
County as well as those in communities downstream. All efforts which can be made should be made
to ensure that the river provides quality drinking water, recreational opportunities and habitats for
flora and fauna of the corridor into the future.
5. Plant and Animal Habitat
Wilkinson County is heavily forested, providing habitat for a variety of game and nongame wildlife.
Songbirds, some species of migratory birds and other waterfowl, dove and quail are present
throughout the county. Rabbits, deer, beaver, racoons, opossum, grey squirrels and other species
of Georgia wildlife are found in the county. No protected animal habitat areas have been
specifically identified to exist in the county. There are no federally held lands in the county nor are
there any state parks or non-county operated recreation areas.
There is limited interest in the county for the preservation or protection of these habitats. The
Beaverdam Wildlife Management Area provides some protection for any habitats which may be
identified in the future. Because of the limited developemnt occurring now or in the future, the plant
and animal habitats are not being impacted by incompatible land uses or other activities.
Wilkinson County has a small number of rare, threatened or endangered animal species possibly
existing in the county as identified by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife
While the locations of existing habitats in Wilkinson County have not been specifically identified
nor mapped, it is evident that one or more rare, endangered or threatened animal specie may exist
in the county. Development must be regulated accordingly.
Rare, threatened and endangered plants potentially occurring in Wilkinson County have also been
identified by the Wildlife Resources Division of GA DNR. As in the case of the fauna species,
specific locations of these plant species, if they exist at all in the county, have not been identified
and mapped. They are as follows:
6. Scenic Views and Sites
While there are no designated scenic views in Wilkinson County, there are many places which
could be viewed as such. Because of the ridges and valleys created by the prehistoric land
development, long vistas exist which fit the general description of a scenic view. One particular
view is from the northwest corner of the county, off of GA 57, looking down such a valley
toward Gordon. No incompatible land uses are occurring now nor planned for the future which
would impact scenic views. The preservation and protection of these views is not of interest to
7. Summary and Policy Implications
Land uses in Wilkinson County and its municipalities are compatible with the soil types found throughout the county. Because the economy depends on the continuation of the mining and forest resources industries, much care should be taken to protect the lands for future development and use. Lands which are not suited for development, primarily along the river and major creeks, should be protected from over-development and encroaching development. The protection and management of these areas will allow for continued recreational uses. The county and the municipalities have the opportunity to thoughtfully plan for and manage their resources through the development of a river corridor protection plan, and a comprehensive land development ordinance with zoning ordinances and sedimentation and erosion plans to prevent damaging development from occurring.
IV. B. HISTORIC RESOURCES
The protection of historic resources is an important element of any comprehensive plan developed
for an area. Historic preservation is an important local government function which should be
included when planning for growth and development. In order to plan for the future, the historic
development patterns must be fully understood and appreciated.
As an economic development tool, preservation is important for directing growth to established areas, thus keeping in continual use that infrastructure which is already in place and paid for by tax dollars. This saves local governments the expense of new infrastructure costs, and prevents the loss of an area's built heritage. Quality of life issues are important parts of any historic preservation and economic development program, not only for the aesthetic appreciation of our historic resources but also as an incentive for employers to locate in a particular community.
The visible protection of a community's historic resources reflects the way the community views
itself. Through the constant upkeep and rehabilitation of structures, property values are kept stable
and a tax base remains uniform. Additionally, through sound preservation practices, the heart of a
community, whether a downtown business district or a single building, such as a courthouse which
represents an area's historic development, can be protected and kept in continued use for future
2. Historic Overview
Wilkinson County was created in May of 1803 through Georgia's Land Lottery Act of 1802.
Wilkinson was the 28th county to be formed in Georgia from Indian lands between the Oconee and
Ocmulgee rivers ceded in 1802 and the later 1805 cessation. The 1803 lottery, which distributed the
lands in Wilkinson and other newly formed counties, was the first land lottery ventured in Georgia.
In 1807, Baldwin and other counties to the north were cut from Wilkinson County; then, in 1809,
Twiggs County was formed from part of Wilkinson, leaving the county as it is today.
Like all Georgia counties, Wilkinson was divided into Militia Districts, originally for the protection
of its residents. These districts were named for prominent men and families who lived in them, or
for churches such as Ramah and Bethel. Today, these districts are still official divisions within the
county, used as polling boundaries, but are numbered rather than named, even though they are still
referred to by their original names.
The county was named in honor of Brigadier General James Wilkinson, first governor of the
Louisiana Territory and a soldier who fought in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
During the War of 1812, Wilkinson served in Louisiana and was involved with the fortifications in
New Orleans. He was born in Maryland and was trained as a physician. In 1816, Wilkinson
published a three-volume tome, Memoirs of my own Times, which chronicled historic events of his
time. Wilkinson died in Mexico in 1825 and is buried there.
The Central of Georgia Railroad came to Wilkinson County in the early 1840s, beginning operation
in 1843. Rail transport of the county's agricultural products, primarily cotton, to the port of
Savannah had a positive effect on the county's economy, supplanting the previous available
transportation method of slow steamboat down the Oconee. The county's economy flourished from
that point until the 1860s and the War Between the States. During the War, parts of Sherman's army
came through Wilkinson County, and along their way, destroyed the rail lines.
Irwinton was designated the county seat in 1811, and incorporated in 1816. It was named after
Governor Jared Irwin. It sits between Commissioner's Creek and Big Sandy Creek and was situated
thusly to be at the intersection of the road from Savannah to Fort Hawkins and the road from
Milledgeville to towns southeast. This was also the route of the Uchee Trading Path leading to
Ocmulgee Old Fields near Macon.
Irwinton suffered when the Central of Georgia was built through the county because of a decision
made by the residents to not allow the tracks to pass through their town. The courthouse is located
in downtown Irwinton. It has burned on four separate occasions, including 1865 when a unit of
Sherman's Army burned its way through Wilkinson County. The most recent fire was in the 1920s;
the current courthouse was built in 1924.
Gordon was founded along the Central of Georgia railroad route to Savannah and on the historic
stage route from Milledgeville to Hawkinsville. It was named to honor William W. Gordon, first
president of the Central of Georgia from 1836 until 1842, during the time the Wilkinson County lines
were constructed. The first passenger train stopped in Gordon in 1843; the first freight train in
1856. Because of its location on the rail lines, Gordon was the major shipping point for goods grown
in counties surrounding Wilkinson County in the mid-nineteenth century, including cotton from
Jones and Twiggs counties.
Toomsboro was another stop on the Central of Georgia line. The actual station was originally at the
home of Thomas McIntyre, to the east of the present Toomsboro. The town was named to honor
prominent Georgia U.S. Senator and Congressman Robert Toombs, but the b in Toombs was
inadvertently dropped and the town has remained Toomsboro. Today it is a crossing for the railroad,
with an excellent collection of historic structures dating from the turn of the century.
McIntyre was named for the family of Thomas McIntyre, an Irish immigrant who came to Wilkinson
county to build the railroad. His widow was named station agent in the 1850s at a stop along the rail
lines which later came to be known as McIntyre.
The city of Allentown, in the southwest corner of the county, was not settled because of the railroad
route but because of the crossing of the Indian trail and other trails and roads leading through the
county. The community which would become Allentown was settled shortly after the founding of
the county and during its history has been called by several different names, finally becoming known
as Allentown in honor of the Allen family in the 1890s. Rail lines were laid through the community
for the Macon Savannah and Dublin (MS&D) Railroad around 1890, and the town was incorporated
There are several historic crossroads communities in the county, identified more by their collection
of resources than by any particular place name. These crossroads include the area around Cool
Springs Church and the vicinity of Nickelsville. Of interesting historic note is the origin of the
"Nickelsville" name because it derives from a statement made by a Mr. DuPree who operated a store
at the original Nickelsville crossing. When asked one day how business was, he replied that you
"can't make a nickel"-- thus Nickelsville!
The War Between the States took a definite toll on Wilkinson County. Not only were many of her
sons called to service, but Sherman's troops stopped in the county on their way from Atlanta to
Savannah and left destruction in their wake. Many houses and businesses were burned by the federal
troops, as was the courthouse. Because of this, few historic resources remain from the times before
Following the War, Wilkinson citizens joined the rest of Georgia in slowly rebuilding their lives and
their homes. Rail lines were put down again so that the Central of Georgia could travel through to
Savannah. The economy slowly recovered, but without slave labor, agriculture was not the dominant
force in its economic rebirth. It wasn't until the last twenty years of the nineteenth century that the
county's economy began to stabilize. Then, with the discovery of the kaolin deposits and the opening
of the first kaolin plant, dramatic changes were seen in all aspects of life in the county.
Between 1880 and 1930, a great deal of construction went on in Wilkinson County. Most of the
historic resources evident today were built during that time. The commercial districts of Gordon,
Irwinton, Toomsboro, and McIntyre were built then, as were many of the residential structures still
The first kaolin company in Wilkinson County was the McIntyre Kaolin Company which opened in
1908 near McIntyre. By 1927 there were at least five major companies and several smaller ones in
the county actively mining both kaolin and bauxite. Between 1915 and 1929, Wilkinson County
led the state in production of kaolin. In 1927, Wilkinson County alone produced 46 percent of
Georgia's kaolin. In 1925 the Georgia White Brick Company opened in Gordon to produce face
bricks from the locally mined kaolin. It closed in the 1930s.
Wilkinson County has not changed much since the turn of the twentieth century. A great deal of building went on in the 1950s and 1960s, but the greatest number of housing units were built in the county during the 1970s. From that point, housing construction has steadily declined. However,
historic housing stock remains in use throughout the county and in relatively good condition county-wide. A program of preservation and protection will ensure that this remains the case for the future
of Wilkinson County.
3. Identification of Resources
a. Historic Resources Surveys
A survey of the county's historic resources was undertaken in 1975 by a student at the University of Georgia. Unlike most surveys of that time, this particular survey identified both high style properties and the more common vernacular structures which are of no specific style of architecture but incorporate elements of known styles. Very few high style structures, of a nationally or internationally recognized style of architecture, exist in Wilkinson County. This 1975 survey, while not exhaustive, identified 31 significant resources in the county, 14 in Toomsboro, 3 in Irwinton and 8 in Gordon. Of these resources as identified in 1975, 22 were considered as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places individually, and one as a National Register Historic District.
A cursory windshield survey was performed for the purposes of this plan. These historic resources
are indicated on MAP IV-B.1 Several resources identified in the 1975 survey have since
disappeared, and steps must be taken to ensure others do not follow suit. Because of the 20-year
time span since the original survey, resources which were not considered old enough at that time,
over 50 years old, have now passed that mark and should be included in any new survey effort.
According to the 1990 Census, there are 680 structures in the county which were build in 1949 or
before, and of that number 680 were built in 1939 or earlier. While not all of these will be eligible
for the National Register, it is important to note the number of 50 year old and older structures still
extant in the county.
In neither of the surveys have large numbers of rural tenant houses been identified. This fact may
possibly be attributed to the minor part agriculture has played in the local economy during the
twentieth century. Another reason there are so few tenant houses may also be because of the
practices of both the forestry and mining industries to remove potentially hazardous structures from
A new comprehensive survey of historic resources is the first step in the protection of these
resources. This survey needs to be undertaken in order to locate and identify the remaining resources
in the county. Because of the mining and commercial forestry industries in the county, historic
resources outside of municipal limits are in constant danger of being lost. Taking these resources
into account prior to any development or expansion of either of these two industries will help protect
them. The Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has an
established procedure for surveying historic resources which is being used successfully across the
Various mechanisms exist to fund the undertaking of any survey. The Historic Preservation Section
administers a survey program which is gathering data on resources throughout the entire state. This
state office offers grants on a yearly cycle for the purpose of conducting these surveys. Additionally,
the Local Development Fund of the Department of Community Affairs offers local governments
funding opportunities twice a year to fund preservation type projects including surveys.
b. Landmark Resources
Due to the size and density of the municipalities of the county, most of the significant in-town resources are grouped, forming potential historic districts. Outside of these incorporated areas, many significant resources have been identified, either in the 1975 survey or the more recent cursory survey done for this plan. Further research is needed to fully identify these resources. Residential and industrial properties were identified in addition to potential rural districts and farmsteads.
Location of Historic Resources- Insert Here
Because of the land use practices of the local mining and forestry industries, historic open space is
difficult to define and identify and was not recorded as such.
The historic resources extant in the county primarily reflect the Victorian types and styles in large
measure because of the damage inflicted on the pre-1860 buildings of the county during the Civil
War. The remaining antebellum structures are "plain" structures, with little or no applied decoration.
A significant number of Plantation Plain type structures, from before and after the War, are found
throughout the county in large enough numbers to warrant the preparation of a multiple property
nomination to the National Register. There are also several extremely significant dog-trots in the
county, with open and closed breezeways, which also might be researched for a multiple property
4. Historic Designation
a. National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is this country's list of buildings, sites, districts, structures
and objects which are historically significant and worthy of preservation. The U.S. Department of
the Interior is responsible for this list on a national basis; the Historic Preservation Division of the
Georgia Department of Natural Resources is responsible for the list on a state level. The Historic
Preservation Division also keeps the Georgia Register of Historic Places, and properties listed in the
National Register are automatically listed in the Georgia Register.
Listing in the National Register is official recognition of a resource's significance whether
architecturally, historically or archaeologically. It helps to safeguard these resources but does not
guarantee their continued preservation without additional local safeguards. National Register listing
does not in any way restrict a property owner's rights to the everyday use and disposal of their
property. It only requires review of federally funded, licensed or permitted actions planned for any
National Register listed or eligible resource. This required review is legislated in Section 106 of the
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended) and comes into play with such actions as
road building or widening projects.
Financial incentives for preservation are dependent on listing in the National Register of Historic
Places. Owners of income-producing properties listed in the Register, whether individually or as
a contributing structure in an historic district, are eligible for a federal 20 percent tax credit for
rehabilitation to the property. Income producing and personal residential properties listed in the
Georgia Register are eligible for a state property tax abatement program.
(1) Current Listings
At present, only one property in Wilkinson County is listed individually in the National Register, the
Elam-Camp House in Gordon. This Georgian Revival house was built in 1915 by Civil War veteran
William S. Elam, who worked for the Central of Georgia railroad, and was the first brick house built
in Gordon. Each brick in the house is stamped with the name of the brick company, McMillian
Brick Co. of Milledgeville, firm of the house's architect Robert McMillian. The house arrangement
is 4 over 4 rooms with a flat roof and 2 interior chimneys. The windows are 2/2 with concrete sills.
Elam was section foreman of the railroad and had moved to Gordon from Baldwin County. He was
born in 1845 and died in 1923 and probably built the house following his retirement from the
railroad. He became a prominent citizen in Gordon and was a trustee of the Methodist Church. A
street in Gordon was named for him.
(2) Eligible Properties and Districts
Many National Register eligible properties--districts and individual structures--have been identified
throughout the county. Districts identified in the county are both in the towns and the rural areas.
The rural resources are farmsteads or crossroads communities. Many historic properties can be
found in the remnants of the small communities across the county.
Nominations for individual properties, historic districts and multiple properties with similar historic
linkages should be prepared for properties in the county. Grants are available to fund the preparation
of nominations from the Historic Preservation Division and from the Department of Community
There are several potential individual National Register eligible properties in Wilkinson County.
As previously stated, Plantation Plain houses and dog-trots constitute a large enough sector of the
architectural heritage to warrant multiple property nominations rather that individual listings but are
included for informational purposes. A listing of potentially eligible properties would include but
not be limited to the following properties shown on Maps IV B.2-5:
In Gordon, three potential historic districts exist on both sides of the railroad tracks:
In Toomsboro, the majority of structures within the town limits are historic. A historic district
nomination would include all structures along the railroad tracks, especially the Clay Hotel and the
Swampland Opera House, plus many residential structures leading away from downtown.
A potential district in Irwinton would be the area above downtown on E. Bank St., and would cross
U.S. 441 to include the Baptist Church. There are two notable Plantation Plain structures in Irwinton
which could be included in a multiple property nomination.
Four possible multiple property nominations have been identified: (1) the very significant collection
of Plantation Plain houses; (2) the dog-trot houses of the county, enclosed and open; (3) the
rusticated/molded single pen concrete block "courthouses" used as polling places in each militia
district, and built before 1950 by prison labor for the county; and (4) historic church buildings.
b. Local Designation of Historic Resources
The Georgia Historic Preservation Act of 1980 established a mechanism by which local governments
may legally designate as locally significant historic resources within their jurisdictions and
implement procedures by which to protect these resources. The Act enables local governments to
adopt historic preservation ordinances, and by adopting and implementing these ordinances, a
government may safeguard the integrity of its neighborhoods, commercial areas and historically
important industrial resources. Because a preservation ordinance is an appearance ordinance rather
than a use ordinance, a government may build on and enhance those qualities which give their
community its character and appeal. The Act provides a framework for writing county- or city-wide
ordinance, either as overlays to zoning ordinance or separate from zoning ordinances.
A preservation ordinance is a valuable economic development tool in a community. A government may improve the overall quality of life for its citizens by encouraging the continued maintenance of historic structures. This makes an area attractive not only to those living there but to development prospects looking for new homes, or for out-of-towners passing through. Through this continual maintenance, a government may promote its historic resources, thus formulating a tourism program.
Some property owners may consider appearance controls as restrictions of their property rights.
However, this limited viewpoint overlooks the greater benefits of this type of ordinance to not only
a neighborhood, but an entire town, county and region. A preservation ordinance helps insure that
an owner's investments to improve a historic property will not be undermined by the willful neglect
of neighboring properties. Any perceived restrictions of property rights is returned to each property
owner in the form of assurances that neighbors must abide by the same rules for the betterment of
the greater community.
After adoption of a preservation ordinance, a local government appoints a Historic Preservation
Commission or Review Board (HPC) to oversee the implementation of the ordinance. The make-up
for this HPC is outlined in the Georgia Preservation Act, but basically, local citizens who have an
interest in history, architecture, planning or any of several other related fields may serve on the
commission. The commission reviews material changes to structures within locally designated
historic districts and makes decisions as to the appropriateness of these changes. In order to do this,
the HPC follows an established set of design guidelines, prepared specifically for the locality served
by the HPC.
With a preservation ordinance in place and an active preservation commission established, a local
government becomes eligible to apply for status as a Certified Local Government (CLG) from
Georgia's Historic Preservation Division. The CLG program was created by the National Historic
Preservation Act which outlined the responsibilities and requirements for a local government
participating in the program. Governments which participate as CLGs are eligible to apply for
preservation grant money for special purposes from a special grant pool available only to CLGs.
This money is awarded through the Historic Preservation Division from their annual federal
allocation and may be used for such projects as landscaping in historic districts, the preparation of
design guidelines, and the preparation of National Register nominations.
Allentown historic resources - insert here
gordon historic resources map - insert here
irwinton historic resources map - insert here
toomsboro historic resources map - insert here
At one time, approximately 100 million years ago, the majority of Wilkinson County was under
water, with only the northernmost section of the county being beach area. This geological
occurrence resulted in a layer of fossilized marine life which lies atop the kaolin beds throughout the
county. In these fossil deposits have been found sharks teeth, whale vertebra and other prehistoric
In more recent times, 1,500 or so years age, the Creek Indians inhabited the area and crossed the
county on trading paths to Ocmulgee Old Fields. Forty two sites have been identified in Wilkinson
County, the majority of which are associated with native American habitation. These sites are in
the Georgia Archaeological Site File at the University of Georgia.
Archaeological sites are extremely fragile and must be carefully protected. For this reason, exact site
locations are not mapped. For further information on the archaeology of the county, contact the
Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
6. On-Going Preservation Activities
There is no organized county-wide historical society, nor are there societies in the municipalities.
7. Summary and Policy Implications
Wilkinson County has a long and rich heritage and numerous significant historic resources, but only
one property listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The historic resources of the county
need to be protected before they disappear, and with them the county's past. Without knowledge of
how and why the county developed and progressed from its beginnings, future generations will not
be able to plan for the future.
Development pressures are not impacting the resources in the county, but the forestry and mining
industries are putting the resources in danger. Preservation ordinances in the towns and on a county-wide basis, plus National register nominations would protect these buildings. Additionally, by
adopting preservation ordinances, local governments could participate in the Certified Local
Government program, making them eligible for grant funds to maintain the historic integrity of their
built architectural heritage.
Successful economic development is dependent upon sound community planning. This chapter
provides an inventory and assessment of the labor force and the economic base. The information
included in this and other sections of the plan will be useful in determining civic policy and action
for the county and the cities. It should help in determining such issues as whether preservation of
the existing economic structure meets the needs of the community or should be altered through
This chapter will discuss the current status of the local economy, emphasizing significant trends and
needs within the economy. In addition, projections will be used to provide a glimpse of a possible
future economy, and when appropriate, action will be prescribed to alter potential undesirable
B. REGIONAL INVENTORY
Wilkinson County is located in the Middle Georgia region of the State. This Middle Georgia region
consists of eleven counties, namely Baldwin, Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Jasper, Jones, Monroe,
Peach, Putnam, Twiggs, and Wilkinson.
According to the 1990 United States Population Census, 383,361 persons reside in the Middle
Georgia region. The labor forces of the area consist of 147,500 workers, with an average
unemployment rate for 1994 of 5.2 percent. The major commuting patterns lead to the cities of
Macon to Warner Robins and Robins Air Force Base. Ninety-nine percent of the county's
employees commute to work, both within the region and outside the region.
Interstate-75 runs north to south through the region and I-16 joins the region with the coast.
Interstate 475 bypasses the City of Macon on the west side, while U.S. Routes 23, 41, 80 129, and
341 travel through the region in all directions. In addition, there are about a dozen State Routes
passing through the area. Irwinton, the seat of Wilkinson County, is located on Route 57 and 441,
while Routes 18, 96, 112, and 243 radiate all across the county. Though no major interstate directly
serves Wilkinson County, it is projected that the construction of the proposed Fall Line Freeway will
provide better access to the City of Macon and Augusta for the northern portion of the county.
Though Wilkinson County is close to the Macon-Warner Robins Metropolitan Statistical Area, it
is isolated by inadequate highway access. No distinct growth patterns are apparent in the county.
However, it is expected that the Fall Line Freeway, currently under construction, joining Columbus,
Macon, and Augusta, will pass through the northern-most portion of the county and will potentially
stimulate some economic and population growth in the Ivey and Gordon areas.
Wilkinson County is served with rail by CSX Transportation with lines that bisect the county
connecting Toomsboro, McIntyre, and Gordon. CSX maintains major switch yards in Macon and
Savannah which connect the county with other rail service points in the country.
Air transportation is available from Bibb County and Atlanta airports. Atlanta Hartsfield
International Airport, approximately 90 miles away, provides reasonable air service via commuter
lines from Macon with connections to the rest of the world. Several general aviation airports,
including Milledgeville, Dublin, and Macon's Herbert Smart, provide access to air travel,
particularly private and corporate traffic.
Historically, Wilkinson County has sustained a relatively strong economic base. Initially, the
foundation of the economy was formed by agricultural production and timber growth and harvest.
Timber remains the most important agricultural product to the county's economy. More recently,
the foundation has shifted away from general agricultural production and toward mining and
processing, particularly of kaolin. Kaolin mining and processing is the foremost element of the
county's economic base. Well over 70 percent of the nation's kaolin is mined from Wilkinson
County soil and its neighboring counties. As the technology necessary for the mining of kaolin
increases, the county will require a more highly skilled workforce. Improvements in education
through closer attention to the quality of education provided will help the county to reach this goal.
Bibb County and the City of Macon have the largest impact on the region's economy. The economy
is healthy and diverse, with services, retail, and manufacturing employing 69 percent of total labor
force of the region. The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, USAF in Houston County, is another
major employer of the region. However, only about 25 of the Logistics Center's 19,000 employees
are from Wilkinson County. Nevertheless, the impact on Wilkinson County's economy is
significant. Annual salaries from the Logistics Center in Wilkinson County totals over $960,000.
With services purchased, retiree payments, and other selected activities, the impact on the county
is $2.5 million annually.
Historically, Wilkinson County has enjoyed a strong economic base. Timber is the largest product.
Agriculture plays only a minor part in the economic base of the county, with peanuts, beef, cotton,
wheat, soybeans, corn, and commercial vegetables being produced.
C. ECONOMIC BASE
The term "Economic Base" is a collective term that is used to describe resources, businesses, and opportunities in a community. A detailed analysis of the major industries of Wilkinson County and the cities of Allentown, Gordon, Ivey, McIntyre, Irwinton, and Toomsboro, was conducted to determine economic trends in relation to population, housing, and community facilities. Most economic development data was available only on the county level. Specific information on the economies of Allentown, Gordon, Ivey, McIntyre, Irwinton, and Toomsboro was limited or nonexistent. For these reasons, most of the analysis was conducted for the county with the implication that the cities' economies are strongly influenced by those of the county and the region.
Source: Woods & Poole Economics, Inc., 1994
The employment growth rate in Wilkinson County was 12 percent from 1980 to 1990. The state as
a whole added jobs at more than twice that rate over the past decade. Wilkinson County posted
declines in the farming, construction and wholesale trade industries and gained less than 20
employees in the agricultural services industry (11 jobs), retail trade industry (16 jobs) and finance,
insurance and real estate industry (19 jobs). Over 400 new government jobs were gained over the
decade, with most in the state and local divisions. Employment in the services industry rose 21
percent with over 270 new jobs. Manufacturers added more than 100 new jobs while mining
operations gained 34 workers.
Source: Woods and Poole Economics, Inc. 1994
Farming, construction and trade employment showed declines in their shares of the employment base over the past decade. Job growth projected for the coming decades will strengthen the trade industry. While manufacturing employment comprised less than a quarter of total employment in 1980 and 1990, it is projected to account for 48 percent of Wilkinson County's job base by 2015. While the services industry outranked manufacturing in employment share in 1990 by nearly 13 percent, its portion of the job base is expected to fall nearly 39 percent and hold equal rank with retail trade by 2010.
Source: Woods & Poole Economics, Inc., 1994
Income growth in Wilkinson County also lagged behind the state from 1980 to 1990. While total personal income increased 48 percent for Georgia, it grew only 25 percent in the county. In fact, declines in personal income were posted in the finance, construction and retail trade sectors. The mining industry posted the most dramatic earnings increase (59 percent), followed by government (44 percent), services (34 percent) and manufacturing (13 percent).
Source: Woods and Poole Economics, Inc., 1994
While over 40 percent of the county's income was generated in the services industry in 1990, less than 9 percent of earnings in 2010 will come from these sources. Manufacturers will produce 55 percent of the county's income by 2010 as they gain jobs and an increasingly stronger position in the economic base. While mining is expected to represent only 6 percent of the total jobs in the county in 2010, the industry will generate 13 percent of the income.
Source: Georgia Department of Labor
Note: D = Nondisclosure
a. Retail Trade
Figure 5.6 shows that only 7.4 percent of total jobs in Wilkinson County in 1990 were in retail trade.
When this figure was compared to State (16.5%) and national figures (16.5%) for same time period,
Wilkinson County's retail sector presents a picture below the state and national averages. Wages
in the trade sectors of the county are substantially lower that statewide averages. Averages for 2015
indicate retail employment for the county should grow.
The substantial differences between the state and county figures are the result of, first, the relative
small population base of the county, and second, the proximity of Wilkinson County to Macon and
Milledgeville. Furthermore, a small population base cannot substantially support strong retail trade
except for groceries because of out-shopping in Macon, Dublin or Milledgeville.
Many of the businesses in Allentown, Ivey, Gordon, Irwinton, McIntyre, and Toomsboro are family
owned, or owned by sole proprietors. Retail trade contributes a very small portion of total personal
income in Wilkinson County compared to state and national levels.
Source: Woods and Poole Economics, Inc. 1994
Source: Woods and Poole Economics, Inc. 1994
b. Wholesale Trade
Wilkinson County and its cities do not have a significant wholesale trade industry. As Table 5.8
shows, only 1.2 percent of the county's work force was employed in this sector in 1990; and by the
year 2015, about 2.1 percent of its work force will be employed in this area. Again, these figures are
below the state and national averages of 6.4 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively, for 1990 and
projected figures of 6.6 and 4.8 percent for 2015.
Source: Woods and Poole Economics, Inc., 1994
Also, Table 5.9 shows that less than two percent of the county's total earnings for 1990 was
attributable to wholesale trade, with the projected figures for the year 2015 also less than two
percent. These figures are far lower than the state and national averages for those same years, but
are typical of rural economies. Considering the historic and projected economic figures, it is
reasonable to expect wholesale trade to remain relatively insignificant as the county's earning source.
Source: Woods & Poole Economics, Inc, 1994
According to the Georgia Department of Labor, approximately 37 percent of the county's labor force
was engaged in the service industry in 1990. The state average for the same year, as illustrated in
Table 5.10 below, represented 23 percent, while the national average for the same year was 27
percent. Furthermore, in the referenced year, 41 percent of the total earnings of the county was from
the service sector, while those of the state and nation were considerably lower at 23 percent and 26
percent, respectively. These figures are presented in Table 5.11. In addition, the average weekly
wage earned by persons employed in the service industry in Wilkinson County was $326 for the
same time period. This wage is lower than the state's average of $414 for the same time period.
These figures, though indicating that employment in the service industry for the county was greater than the state and national averages, the county's economy payed less, which is typical of rural economies. Also, the state average includes health and consulting services, neither of which is significant in Wilkinson County.
Source: Woods & Poole Economics, Inc, 1994
Source: Woods & Poole Economics, Inc, 1994
The Georgia Manufacturing Directory, 1994, lists 25 manufacturers in Wilkinson County. Nine
manufacturers are located in McIntyre and employ 1,554 people; 4 are located in Irwinton and
employ 270 people; 8 are in Gordon and employ 328 people; 2 are in Toomsboro and employ 16
people; 1 is in Ivey and employs 9 people; and 1 is located in the unincorporated area of the county
and employs 5 workers. Most of these are directly related to or support the kaolin mining and
processing operations. Though there are no manufacturing jobs in Allentown and few in
unincorporated Wilkinson County, many of the town's residents commute to manufacturing jobs
associated with the kaolin companies in the other cities within and outside the county.
Table 5.12 compares the percentages of Wilkinson County's labor force employed in manufacturing
with the state and national averages. According to these figures, 24 percent of Wilkinson County's
total labor force were employed in manufacturing in 1990. When compared with 15 percent of the
State's labor force employed in this sector for the same year, the figures presented for the county
show a relatively greater percentage of its total labor force in manufacturing. According to data in
Table 5.13, manufacturing generated 27 percent of the county's total earnings in 1990 while 18
percent of the state's income came from manufacturing in 1990.
Source: Woods & Poole Economics, Inc, 1994
Source: Woods & Poole Economics, Inc, 1994
Historically, the county's percentage of earnings derive from manufacturing have been higher than
the state and national averages. Weekly wages for manufacturing workers averaged $510 in 1990
compared to $449 at the state level. This is due, in part, to the presence of kaolin industries in the
county which pay above average wages, coupled with the fact that most of the industries located in
the county are kaolin-related.
Source: Georgia Manufacturing Directory, 1994, and Wilkinson Board of Commissioners.
Data was not available for tourism-related activity. However, local sources indicate that deer
hunting is significant in Wilkinson County and seasonally contributes to the county's economy.
Hunting preserves attract visitors to the community who purchase hunting and fishing licenses,
automobile and boat fuel, groceries, restaurant meals and alcohol.
The county's approximate acreage (1989) in forest land is 249,406 acres, or 86.22 percent of all land
area in the county. Ownership of forest land is 26.2 percent by the forest industry, public .2 percent,
9.6 percent by farmers, and 64 percent by individuals or others. Pulpwood production (1989) totaled
61,991 cords and employed 111 workers.
Average annual income (1993) from pulpwood production was $1,684,424. Average annual income
(1993) from 29,169,000 board feet from other timber production was $4,659,760 (Georgia County
Guide). Timber production is a significant source of income for the county and the largest land use
category. The outlook for this segment of the economy is good, and preservation and increased
production with value added opportunities should be explored as economic development objectives.
b. Food Crops
Food crop production in Wilkinson County and its cities has an insignificant impact on employment.
Only minimal impact on the economic base occurs from food crop production in the county.
c. Fiber Crops
Limited data is available on fiber crop production in the county and its cities. The impact on the
economic base is considered minimal.
5. Institutional and Government
There are no hospitals located in Wilkinson County. There is, however, a health department which
provides health care for many of the county residents. In addition, extensive medical facilities exist
in Macon, Milledgeville, and Dublin, all considered accessible to residents of the county. Although
no data on employment of county residents in the medical field are available, local sources indicate
that residents work at hospitals in Milledgeville, Dublin, and Macon.
The county has two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school; and the system
employs 227 persons, of which 130 are teachers. The teachers' average salary is $27,490 (1992-93)
compared to the state's average of $30,051. Wilkinson County spends an average of $1,535 per year
per student on education. Georgia contributes $2,373, and the federal government contributes
$218.00 for a total of $4,126 per student.
Educational development in the work force plays a critical role in economic development and the
economic base of any community. The average high school achievement test scores for Wilkinson
County have declined since 1985. The average was slightly below that of the state.
c. Colleges and Technical Schools
Though there are no post-secondary schools in Wilkinson County and its cities, the neighboring
counties of Bibb and Baldwin and cities of Milledgeville and Macon are home to five universities
and junior colleges and technical schools. Combined, these institutions employ over 3,000 people.
However, the number of college employees that reside in the county and its cities are not known;
consequently, the economic impact of these institutions on the economy of the county cannot readily
be identified or isolated.
d. State and Local Governments
Available data sources combined state and local government information; therefore, they will be
discussed together. Approximately 10 percent of the labor force in Wilkinson County is employed
by state and local governments. When these figures are compared to the state and national averages
for the same time period, they show that the county's figures, though lower, compares with the
national average of 11 percent, but is lower than the state average of 11 percent.
Data indicates that this sector contributed approximately 8 percent to the county's total earnings in
1990. This figure is substantially lower than the state and national averages of 11 percent and 11.5
percent, respectively, for the same time period. Data show that the county's weekly wage of $330
for this sector of the economy is lower than the state's $450 in 1990. Current state budget
constraints and the inherent financial limits of rural governments suggest that wages in this sector
will continue to be modest.
e. Federal Government
Federal jobs in Wilkinson County are few when compared with other counties in the same region.
Records published in 1990 by Woods and Poole Economics, Inc., combined federal military and
civilian jobs which amounted to 73 out of a total work force of 4,317 for 1990. The same source
also shows that nearly 2 percent of the county's work force is employed in this sector in 1990. This
trend is expected to continue in the next 20 years.
6. Warehousing and Distribution
Wilkinson County and its cities do not have significant warehousing and distribution facilities.
However, with the completion of the Fall Line Freeway, it is expected that the county would
encourage this sector of the economy in the future.
In 1990, mining accounted for 7 percent of total income in Wilkinson County. This is substantially
higher than the state's average of .2 percent and the national average of .9 percent. Hence, mining
is extremely important to the communities. Mining also accounts for 3 percent of the total labor
force of the county as compared to .2 percent of the state and .7 percent of the nation. Total weekly
wages for mining is suppressed by the Census, but growth in total earnings from 1980 to 1990 was
more rapid than in any other sector in the county.
It is expected that mining earnings and wages will continue to be an important source of income for
residents of the county. Also, since kaolin mining and processing are the major employers in the
community and since the county has an extremely large share of the known kaolin resources, this
trend is expected to be maintained or accelerated.
8. Special Economic Sectors
Robins Air Force Base in Houston County has a major influence on the economy of the region. The
Base employs approximately 19,000 people of which 23 live in Wilkinson County. There are also
retired military and civilians from the Base living in the county. One hundred eighty-eight (188)
persons with annual incomes totalling $2,466,660 (1993) from some affiliation with the Base reside
in the communities of Wilkinson County.
9. Sources of Personal Income
Wilkinson County's personal income is derived primarily from the wages and salaries paid to its work force. In 1990, nearly 59 percent of the county's income was generated by wages and salaries, only slightly behind the state's 60 percent. While income generated by wages and salaries is expected to decline in share at the state level over the next few decades, it is expected to rise in Wilkinson County, peaking at 61 percent in 2005 and holding at 60 percent through 2015. The relative importance of earnings in mining and manufacturing industries is also projected to rise during this period and is likely to reflect the county's dependence on kaolin mining and kaolin-based manufacturing processes. Proprietor's income, dividends, investments, rent payments and interest income represent a smaller portion of total personal income in the county than the state, due to the rural nature of the community.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Wilkinson County's positive residence adjustment rate and commuting pattern reflect the
dependence of many residents on employment in surrounding counties. The county is expected to
continue generating a great deal of its income from outside sources, with residence adjustment rates
remaining above state levels through the year 2015.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Transfer payments to Wilkinson County residents will also remain higher than state levels
throughout the next two decades. In 1990, Wilkinson County generated over 18 percent of its
personal income from social security, unemployment insurance, food stamps, veterans benefits and
other government payments, compared to 13 percent at the state level. Nearly 14 percent of the
population relies on food stamps compared to 9 percent at the state level. However, many
surrounding counties have equal or greater levels of dependency on nutritional assistance vouchers.
Similarly, the county ranks closely with surrounding counties in dependence on Aid to Families with
Dependent Children. With 8 percent of the population receiving these payments, the county ranks
three percent above the state level.
10. Recently Established and Planned Major Industries
Currently, Wilkinson County has 7,634 acres of land utilized for industrial activity; the citizens of
Gordon 700 acres; McIntyre 79; Ivey 7; Toomsboro 27; and Irwinton 0. Most of this is occupied by
kaolin mining, processing and related facilities. Gordon has the only developed industrial park in
the county. Land is available across GA 243 to build a larger industrial park. A number of sites
without utilities are available and could be developed with the provision of access roads and utilities.
Major employers within the commercial region include mining, manufacturers, timber operations,
schools, and state and local governments. The largest employers in the county remain the kaolin
companies. Large deposits of high quality kaolin have caused the mining companies to dominate
the local economy. In addition, timber operations thrive on the abundance of undeveloped lands,
modest land costs and reasonable property taxes. Schools and state and local governments are
necessary and are major employers only because other sectors of the economy are undeveloped.
Major contributors to the local economy are mining, manufacturing, and timber operations, largely
because they utilize local resources and bring revenues into the community from other sources
outside the region. Such businesses are referred to as 'basic industries' and incomes generated by
them are re-circulated in the local economy when workers purchase goods and services. Thus, basic
industry jobs help support local service employment and generate a source of new local wealth.
Retail employment creates less new local wealth because it draws revenue from local residents. As
a result, income generated from retail employment is obtained from salaries earned by other
residents, resulting in a redistribution of local wealth, rather than the influx of new wealth from the
In Wilkinson County, employers include manufacturing, retail trade, wholesale trade, services, and
food crops. The population of the county cannot support extended retail and wholesale trade.
Hence, major retail needs of the county are met in the neighboring metropolitan areas of Macon,
Milledgeville, and Dublin.
D. LABOR FORCE
1. Employment by Occupation
Tables 5.20 and 5.21 show employment by occupation for the county and the state. This information
can be used to determine the general skills and relative wage levels of local residents and compared
to state averages. Because information is not available for municipalities in the county, no attempt
will be made to compare employment by cities. Rather, the analysis will rely on county data.
A comparison between Wilkinson County and the State of Georgia indicates that the county's residents conform to rural norms, as the county figures show a consistently lower percentage of white collar, skilled, and high wage occupations than the state as a whole. Such occupations include managerial, professional and technical specialty positions. The county also has a higher percentage of lower paying blue collar occupations such as labor (non-farm), precision production, craft and repairs. Many of the laborers are employed in the mining operations that form the economic base of Wilkinson County or related service and production businesses.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
The current occupational breakdown in Wilkinson County is not expected to change dramatically
during the next 20 years. The cities of Gordon and Ivey are experiencing population growth and
development; however, the overall population growth is not dramatic for the county. Though
changes in the relative percentage of residents in each occupational category may seem significant
due to the small number of workers in the category, overall the actual changes in wages and skills
of the residents is not significant.
a. Current, Historic, and Projected Work Force Percentages
Because of their small size, work force data was not available specifically for the cities of Allentown,
Gordon, Irwinton, Ivey, McIntyre, and Toomsboro. However, because the economies of these cities
and Wilkinson County are interdependent, the county conditions were applied to the cities.
Historically, kaolin mining and processing has been the backbone of the county's economy,
employing a significant percentage of its labor force, and this percentage has remained relatively
stable. Future projections indicate modest increases in the number employed. Job gains are
projected in the manufacturing (670 jobs), retail (146 jobs), mining (79 jobs) and construction (51
jobs) industries between 1995 and 2015. A 24 percent employment growth rate is projected in
Wilkinson county over the next 20 years.
On the state and national levels, there is a growth trend in service industry jobs, as they replace
manufacturing jobs. Both industries have shown growth in the past decade and are projected to
continue supplying new jobs throughout the next twenty years.
Farming, as a source of employment in Wilkinson County, has followed the same trend as the nation,
the state, and the region--declining. This trend is a result of several factors including
mechanization, increased capital requirements, changing economies of scale, and alternative crop
choices. All these have contributed to a decline in the demand for farm labor. This trend is expected
to continue but at a somewhat reduced rate.
b. Comparison with State and National Percentages
Comparing Wilkinson County with the state and national averages showed the following:
Mining: Table 5.1 shows the number of Wilkinson County's workers employed in mining compared
with state averages. According to these figures, approximately 3 percent of the county's work force
was employed in this industry in 1990, compared to less than one percent employed in the state and
nation in the same time period. This trend is expected to continue especially with the known
reserves of kaolin in the county.
Services: Table 5.1 compares the number of Wilkinson County's residents employed in services
compared with state averages. The figures show that about 37 percent of the total county work force
is employed in the Service industry, while only 23.2 percent was employed in the state and 27.3
percent for the nation in the same time period.
Retail Trade: While this industry is not a major employer in the county, it employs a significant
number of persons. As can be seen from Table 5.1, comparisons between the county and state
averages indicate that 7 percent of the county work force was employed in this sector, lower than the
16.5 percent that was employed in the state and nation for the same time period.
Manufacturing: Table 5.1 indicates that 24 percent of the Wilkinson County labor force was
employed in this sector. This figure is higher than the state and national averages of 15 and 14
percent, respectively. However, it is worth noting that while manufacturing jobs decline in the state
and national levels, they have increased in the county and are projected to continue growing.
2. Employment Status
a. Total Labor Force
In order to compare Wilkinson County's total labor force with those of the State of Georgia, it is
necessary to reduce employment estimates to a percentage of the total population. The tables
compare the percentages among Wilkinson County, the State of Georgia, and the United States.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
Table 5.22 shows that an insignificant percentage of the Wilkinson County labor force is military.
For this reason, civilian and military labor forces will not be analyzed separately. When compared
to the state and national averages, data for Wilkinson County indicate that the county has a lower
percentage of its population in the work force. This fact indicates that a larger percentage of its
population is dependent on the employed population, transfer payments or retirement income than
the state and national averages. Furthermore, this figure could also indicate a shortage of jobs in the
county. However, projections suggest that job growth can be anticipated, and with proper training
and improvements in job readiness among the unemployed, many of these residents may be able to
re-enter the workforce in the next decade.
b. Participation by Gender
Analysis of participation in the work force by gender indicates that the county emulates the state and
national trend of two wage earners. However, entry of females in the work force lags behind state
and national rates in Wilkinson County.
3. Unemployment Rates
The unemployment rate in Wilkinson County has remained consistently lower than the state and
national averages as can be seen in Table 5.25. However, despite this low unemployment rate, the
median income is still lower than the state average. One way that the county can work towards
improving this will be to encourage companies that utilize kaolin products to locate in the
Source: Woods and Poole, Inc.
4. Commuting Patterns
An analysis of commuting patterns indicates the number of jobs in an area and whether money is
flowing into or out of the area. A significant number of the county's residents commute to work
outside the county. While this brings money into the county's economy, the county fails to benefit
from tax revenues that an employer would provide if it were located in the county. However, the
community may find an advantage in marketing sites to the employers of these commuters, or to
supplier and service industries which can use their skills. Such a large percentage of commuters
(46.75 in 1990) suggests that a significant number of workers are candidates to move out of the
Wilkinson has a larger work force than it can employ within its boundaries. An abundant work force
may be an incentive to attract industries. However, further analysis is required to determine the
skills of those working outside the county and the industries that may benefit by locating in
E. LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES
1. Economic Development Agencies
Chamber of Commerce
Wilkinson County has no chamber of commerce; however, the county should look into establishing
one. When established, it could help provide guidance and assistance to the county and
municipalities in the development and retention of economic activity.
Economic Development Authorities
Neither the county nor its cities have an economic development authority. Creating one or joining
in association with an existing authority from a neighboring county should be considered. Without
an active economic development authority, the county will remain in a competitively disadvantaged
position, risking the loss of existing employers and facing limited capability of attracting new ones.
2. Economic Development Programs
Business loans for fixed assets are available from the Development Corporation of Middle Georgia.
Sources for these loans include the Small Business Association, Farmers Home Funds, and the
Economic Development Administration. Neither Wilkinson County nor its cities have a business
incubator nor offer job training opportunities to its residents.
The community should place a priority on developing strategies to provide infrastructure to support
the industrial growth essential to creating jobs that will utilize the existing skills of the area labor
pool. Wilkinson County should develop training programs which will expand the skill levels of the
working age population which is currently not participating in the workforce, concentrating initially
on skills demanded by manufacturers requiring kaolin supplies. Literacy programs for the adult
population and job training cooperatives for high school students may be beneficial in upgrading the
skill levels of the workforce, enabling the community to target businesses in high value added
industries. Industrial recruitment and development plans should be developed which target supplier
and service businesses which will complement existing manufacturers and that could market to
manufacturers in nearby communities. An existing industry needs assessment study can produce a
list of other firms currently servicing area employers.
While retail growth is expected in the next two decades, downtown businesses in each community
are not likely to be a part of this trend. As chain retail establishments develop and expand, sole
proprietorships and family-owned businesses are faced with tremendous competitive obstacles.
Wilkinson County's downtown businesses and other small firms may benefit from economic
development strategies which target the identification of new market niches or product lines which
can compete less directly with the inventories of chains. Plans should include a study of purchasing
patterns among residents to identify products or services which shoppers must obtain outside the
county to help open new markets for local businesses and to retain exported economic activity.
F. SUMMARY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
The economy of Wilkinson County and its communities, to a large extent, is based on the kaolin and
timber industries. Tourism exerts little or no influence on its economy. A significant portion of its
population is dependent on transfer payments such as welfare checks and food stamps. This is
related to low educational attainment and skill deficiencies among the workforce. These indices
suggest that a large portion of the county's population is unskilled. Conversely, of those in the work
force, a large percentage are employed outside the county. The fact that a large percentage of the
county's labor force commutes outside the county confirms that jobs are in short supply for skilled
workers. Therefore, the county should strive to create a skilled and better educated work force
through literacy and job training partnerships and improved participation in state and regional job
Wilkinson County has a large valuable natural resource base that would benefit a wide range of
industries. These resources include railroad services, major highways, proximity to interstate
highways, expansive timber and kaolin resources, proximity to colleges and universities, affordable
land, and an abundance of water.
Intergovernmental cooperation is essential if meaningful gains in economic development are to be
realized. Extensive infrastructure improvements are necessary to attract and support growth. The
capital cost associated with providing infrastructure make cooperative projects mandatory for
communities with small populations and local government fiscal limitations. Joint development and
financing of projects is one means of addressing the issue.
Given the natural resources of the county and the sizable private investment in kaolin mining and
processing as well as the timber industry, it would be beneficial for the county and cities to establish
an "existing industry" support program to work with these companies in ensuring their health and
longevity. This mechanism would also build greater cooperation and reveal opportunities for both
growth and expansion of these industries, as well as for the recruitment or development of locally-based suppliers or service providers. There are a number of vehicles for supporting such an effort
including development authorities, chambers of commerce, and the Regional Development Center.
A critical short-coming in attracting industry to the area is the absence of an organized development
authority and chamber of commerce. An economic development organization can provide the
leadership required to initiate many of the improvements which would most benefit Wilkinson
County. With a strong industrial development authority, much could be accomplished in the areas
of recruiting and fostering new industries for the communities. In addition to attracting businesses,
community leaders should encourage expansion of existing businesses by promoting the
development of new product lines and expanded market areas. Furthermore, close ties and
commitments between local governments and businesses should be emphasized. One way of
achieving this could be a regular breakfast or dinner meeting between community and business
leaders featuring speakers which provide concrete business development advice and information.
Education is a major consideration for prospective industries. Throughout the nation, the critical link
between these two areas has been realized. Hence, many agencies and governments are researching
ways to improve the quality of the nation's educational practices. However, it is beyond the scope
of this plan to promote new educational practices. Nonetheless, increased community involvement
in education has been proven to be effective and is essential to quality education. The "City in
Schools" program has been successful in many communities in Georgia. This program simply
organizes and directs existing government programs for 'at risk' students, and it operates by
clustering related programs into the school as opposed to scattering these programs in many
agencies. In addition, the State has committed to Education 2000 in an effort to increase the state's
educational standard. In order to achieve the goals of improving its economic base, it is necessary
that Wilkinson County and its cities help provide a quality, educated work force.
VI. COMMUNITY FACILITIES
1. What are Community Facilities?
A very important element of the comprehensive planning process is the community
facilities. A community's ability to grow adequately depends upon adequate public
infrastructure support. Furthermore, the facilities that are available to a community reflect
the community's ability to sustain current developments and expand on future developments.
To this end, community facilities play an important role in stimulating residential,
commercial, and industrial growth.
Community facilities and services include the transportation network, solid waste disposal,
water supply and treatment, sanitary sewer system, police protection, fire protection,
emergency medical services, health care and family services facilities, educational facilities,
recreational facilities, libraries, cultural, and general government facilities.
The following provides an inventory and assessment of the community facilities of Wilkinson County and the cities of Allentown, Gordon, Ivey, Irwinton, McIntyre, and Toomsboro. This analysis will determine the adequacy of existing facilities and needs for expansion or construction of facilities if necessary.
2. How Community Facilities Relate to the Planning Process
Each community should be aware of the quality and levels of community facilities available
to its residents. A comparison of present community needs with its population trend will
determine what services are adequate and what services are lacking. The question then
becomes, how can future needs be met and how can future services be funded?
Economic growth of a community is also dependent on adequate community facilities.
Often, it is community facilities which determine the kinds of industry that locate in an area.
For example, large water consuming industry, such as a paper mill factory, could not locate
in an area with limited water supply. On the other hand, an industry that is dependent on rail
transportation for its raw material must locate in an area where there is adequate rail
B. TRANSPORTATION NETWORK
Transportation is a vital element of any community. A good road network is needed for the
movement of goods, services, and people. A community's road network has a great
influence on its growth and development.
Since the beginning of civilization, transportation has been instrumental in the wealth of a
city. Early in the history of the United States, boats and ships were the primary means of
transportation. Consequently, settlements established on rivers and seaports thrived. Later,
railroads replaced waterways as a primary mode of transportation, and towns with
marketable community and rail systems thrived better than those without. Today, highways
and airports are the primary modes of transportation and towns that are immediately served
by major highways and airports experience greater growth than those without.
Highways are generally classified into these three functional categories:
a. Arterial Routes;
b. Collector Routes; and
c. Local Routes.
Arterial routes are designed to handle large volumes of traffic, and they generally serve as
a major source of movement of goods and services though an area. U.S. Highway 441,
which runs through the heart of Wilkinson County, is an example of an arterial road. Arterial
roads and highways can be classified either as major or minor arterials depending upon the
volume of traffic and the highway relationship to the overall road network.
Collector roads allow for quick traffic flow as well as access to individual properties and
businesses. As the name implies, collector roads collect traffic from local streets and direct
them to arterial highways. Collector roads can also be classified as major or minor
collectors, depending upon the volume of traffic.
Typically, a city has many local streets. Local streets are usually low volume, slow speed
avenues, which provide access to homes, businesses, and property.
1. Existing Roads
a. Major Arterial Routes
Currently, U.S. Highway 441 is the only major arterial road in the County. It extends north to south through the center of the county. This highway is adequate to meet current and projected demand. A new arterial route, the Fall Line Freeway, will pass through the northern-most edge of the county when completed.
b. Major Collector Routes
Georgia Highways 18, 57, 112, and 96 are major collector roads in Wilkinson County. The
greatest influence on traffic count on these roads are the timber and kaolin industries. These
industries are dependent on road transportation and generate large volumes of traffic.
Highway 57 connects Gordon, Irwinton, and Toomsboro with Macon. Highway 112
connects Toomsboro to the City of Milledgeville, and Highway 243 connects Gordon and
Ivey to Milledgeville. All of these highways are adequate to serve the county's current and
c. Local Routes
Wilkinson County and its cities have a considerable network of roads. Although traffic
counts on local roads are not available, traffic demands on these routes tend to be very light.
(generally less than two thousand trips per day). As a result, some local roads are not paved.
All local roads are maintained by the communities with financial assistance from the Georgia Department of Transportation. Past experience shows that the maintenance program satisfies local transportation needs. Given the slow rate of projected growth in the county, no major improvements to the local roads beyond general maintenance and upkeep is foreseen. Therefore, the local road network is considered to be adequate to serve current and future needs.
2. Sidewalks and Crosswalks
Sidewalks are defined as designated avenues for the exclusive use of pedestrians, and
typically are parallel to a street. In comparison, a crosswalk is a marked lane for pedestrians
to use when crossing a street.
Wilkinson County and its cities do not have defined or improved pedestrian sidewalks or crosswalks. However, Gordon has some unimproved sidewalks and crosswalks in some residential areas fronting on major thoroughfares. Given the low current and future pedestrian traffic demand, substantial investments in new sidewalks and crosswalks should not be considered a high priority. Nonetheless, such improvements should be considered during development of a capital improvements program for each government.
3. Signalization and Signage
Based on a visual survey, traffic lights and traffic signs in the community appeared to be adequate. However, this matter is governed by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Most of the bridges in the county are small concrete bridges spanning small streams and are adequate for anticipated traffic flow. There is a proposal to replace an existing bridge on State Route 29/U.S. 441 at Black Creek.
5. Public Transportation
Wilkinson County has received funding for a county-operated rural transportation program. The program operates one converted lift van and one standard van. This transit service is available to all residents of the county and may be used for trips to Macon, Dublin, and Milledgeville. Regular service is available between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, with charter services offered on weekends. The demand on this new system has exceeded expectations and the county is considering adding another van to the service to meet existing and future demands.
CSX has several rail lines which run through the centers of Allentown, Gordon, Ivey, McIntyre, and Toomsboro. Much of the traffic on these lines is generated by the timber and kaolin industries. Kaolin companies also have rail spurs to their mining sites throughout the county. The rail lines in the county sufficiently meet both projected and future needs of the community.
Neither Wilkinson County nor its cities have an airport, but the city of Macon has two
commuter airports which are within 50 miles of the county seat. Hartsfield International
Airport in Atlanta is within 100 miles of the county seat. The county and its cities have no
existing or anticipated need for direct airport services.
C. WATER SUPPLY AND TREATMENT
Most County residents have individual wells which are regulated by the Wilkinson County
Health Department. However, there are six municipal well systems in the county. User fees
in the municipalities currently cover the costs of operating these water systems. Each
municipality should begin developing a capital improvements program to fund any future
expansion and maintenance. The expected useful life of each of these systems is
approximately 40 years, with proper maintenance and careful planning.
Because there are no local averages for the amount of water used on the local level, national
averages were used. According to Site Planning (Lynch and Hack, 3rd edition), the number
of gallons of water used by one person per day in the united States is in the 100 to 200 gallon
range, depending on the climate, population, industrialization and other factors.
Allentown: Water is supplied from two wells, and these wells serve approximately 85 customers. The city has a storage tank with a capacity of 75,000 gallons. The city has a permit to draw up to 125,000 gallons of water per day from the wells, but currently draws only 48,000 gallons per day. Because Allentown is a rural community, 100 gallons per day was used to determine the adequacy of the current water supply.
As the table above illustrates, water supply in Allentown will be adequate for the next 20
years. New water lines were installed in 1982 throughout the city.
Gordon: The City of Gordon is supplied by water from three wells that are managed by the
city. The average water withdrawn from these wells is 340,000 gallons per day and treated
with chlorine and lime. Gordon has a storage capacity of 200,000 gallons and a permit to
withdraw up to one million gallons of water per day from its wells.
Using the national averages established by Lynch and Hack of 100 gallons of water per day,
the adequacy of Gordon's current water supply was determined. As can be seen from the
table above, the capacity in Gordon is adequate for the next 20 years. Most of the pipes in
the city's water system are galvanized pipes installed in 1940. The city began a replacement
program using PVC piping in 1990.
Irwinton: The city is supplied with water from two city-owned wells. The average water
withdrawn from these wells is 185,000 gallons per day. The water is treated with chlorine
and lime. Irwinton has a storage capacity of 100,000 gallons and a permit to withdraw up
to 300,000 gallons per day from the wells.
All pipes in the Irwinton water system are galvanized and were repaired in 1983. The table
above indicates the current and projected capacity, based on an expected decrease in the
Ivey: Ivey draws water from two wells managed by the city. The average amount of water
withdrawn from the wells is 140,000 gallons per day with a permit to withdraw up to one
million gallons per day. Ivey has a storage capacity of 175,000 gallons. The water is treated
with chlorine and lime.
Eighty-five percent of the water pipes in the town are PVC, however, the remainder are
Transite and need to be replaced. By using the previously established national average, it
is established that the town has an adequate current and future water supply as shown in the
McIntyre: The city draws its water from two city-managed wells. Withdrawals from the
wells average 125,000 gallons per day. McIntyre has a permit to withdraw up to 150,000
gallons of water per day. Water from the wells is treated with soda ash and chlorine. The
community has storage capacity of 100,000 gallons.
Most of the pipes in the McIntyre water system were installed in the 1980s and are PVC.
As shown in the table above, the city has a substantial current and future water supply,
especially given the decreasing population projected over the next twenty years.
Toomsboro: One well supplies the City of Toomsboro with water. The average water
withdrawn from these wells is 60,000 gallons per day. Toomsboro treats its water with
chlorine sulfur dioxide and lime and has a storage capacity of 65,000 gallons. The city has
a permit to withdraw up to 100,000 gallons of water per day.
Basing the projections on the national average of 100 gallons per day, the table above
indicates that Toomsboro has adequate water for the future. Consideration should be given
to replacing older sections of piping in the water system, some of which may be Transite
D. SEWER SYSTEM AND WASTE WATER TREATMENT
Neither Wilkinson County nor its municipalities of Allentown, Irwinton, Ivey, Toomsboro,
and McIntyre have a sewer system. The residents are served with individual or community
The only community with a sewerage treatment system is the City of Gordon, with a facility
located on Mill Pond Road. This system was installed in 1961 with a capacity of 400,000
gallons of effluence per day with current flow of 225, 000 gallons of effluence per day. The
effluence generated in this community is treated and discharged into Little Commissioner
Creek. One lift station is used to overcome the problem created in areas where the slope of
the ground does not allow for a gravity flow. The city is currently up-dating the sewerage
Though the community fares well with the current disposal system, Ivey on the other hand,
with its high population growth, is experiencing some problems with sewage disposal.
Currently the community is negotiating with Gordon to determine the possibility of
connecting to Gordon's sewer system. Also, Ivey is looking to acquire 25 acres of land on
Owen Avenue to build a waste water treatment facility of its own. The community has met
with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) with respect to constructing its
own sewerage treatment facility. In addition, the city commissioned a study on its sewage
problems to assess the possibility of building its own sewer treatment facility to alleviate
current sewer problems.
If Ivey builds its own sewerage treatment facility or if the City of Gordon extends Ivey
sewerage services, it is expected that the effluence will be treated and discharged into
E. SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT
1. Location of Facilities
Wilkinson County disposes of its solid waste at a landfill that is jointly owned with
neighboring Twiggs County and located in Twiggs County. The county prepared a separate
solid waste plan in 1992.
2. Capacity and Expected Useful Life
As earlier mentioned, the county disposes its solid waste at the Wilkinson County landfill.
This facility was constructed in 1992 and meets the State requirements for a Subtitle D
landfill. This facility should meet the county needs for the next 20 years.
3. Collection System
There are approximately 150 green dumpsters at 90 different locations throughout the county
and in Toomsboro and Allentown. The boxes are emptied by the county. The City of
Gordon has weekly curbside garbage collection with residential trash picked up once a week
and commercial trash picked up twice a week. To achieve this, the city has one garbage
truck that is in excellent condition and another that is in fair condition, along with one
chipper/shredder. In addition, the city has a recycling program with bins provided by Wal-Mart. Items collected for recycling are sold to private companies.
Irwinton has a weekly curbside collection program where its residential and commercial
trash are picked up once a week by D & C private refuse collectors. Ivey contracts with
Sinclair Disposal Services (SDC) for once-a-week garbage collection of its residential and
commercial garbage.McIntyre also has a once-a-week curbside garbage pick-up with D &
C private refuse collectors. Toomsboro also has a once-a-week garbage pick-up with private
F. PUBLIC SAFETY
Wilkinson County has a Sheriff's Department that is located behind the county's courthouse
in Irwinton. The building was constructed in 1923, and the department is staffed by four
full-time dispatchers, six sworn full-time officers, and seven deputies. The jail facility has
a capacity of eleven inmates, and the square footage of the facility is 1,680. There are plans
to construct a new $2.4 million jail, financed with funds from a Special Purpose Local
Option Sales Tax. The proposed facility will have a higher inmate capacity but the same
number of staff. Location of the new jail has not been determined, but four sites are under
Police protection in the county is provided by the Sheriff's Department. According to the
International City Manager's Association Yearbook (1992), there should be at least 2.65
officers for every 1,000 residents. Wilkinson County has a ratio of 1.27 officers per 1,000
residents. This situation is further compounded by the wide area that must be patrolled by
these officers. Allentown depends on Wilkinson County for its police service.
The absence of a capital improvements program indicates a lack of planning to replace
expensive police equipment. For a county the size of Wilkinson, the purchase of an
additional or new patrol car would cause a large impact on the county's budget. Therefore,
it is imperative that the county set up a financial plan that will provide funds when needed
for capital improvements programs.
The City of Gordon's police station is located on Railroad Street. The facility was built in
1978, and additions were made in 1991. The facility has a square footage of 3,619, with a
jail that has a capacity of 16 inmates. It is staffed by four full-time dispatchers, one chief of
police, and four full-time and four part-time officers. The department has five cruisers that
are in fair condition.
The ratio of officers to citizens in the community is 2.4 per 1,000 residents. This ratio is
slightly below the national average of 2.65 officers for every 1,000 citizens.
Irwinton's Police Department is located on Highway 57, adjacent to the city hall. This
facility was built in 1975 and is still in good condition. There are no jail cells in the facility,
so prisoners are housed in the City of Gordon's facility.
The Irwinton Police Department has two cruisers that are in good condition, and no
dispatching is done by the department. The police chief is the only person on staff. Irwinton
does not meet the national average of 2.65 officers per 1,000 residents. In order to meet this
average, the City would need 1.6 officers for a population of 641 persons.
Ivey's police station is located at 100 N. Lake Shore Drive in Ivey. The facility was built in
1965 and is still in good condition. The facility has 980 square feet of space with no prisoner
cells. Prisoners are detained at the Putnam County facility. The facility has two patrol cars
and one four-wheel drive truck that is in good condition. Dispatching is performed by the
town clerk between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and continued by the Sheriff's
Department or the City of Gordon police after 5:00 p.m. The department consists of two
sworn officers and one chief of police bringing the staff strength to three.
The current ratio of officers to residents is 2.84 to 100 residents. Even though this ratio
meets the national standards of 2.65 for every 1,000 residents, caution should be exercised
in assuming that the community's police services are adequate, because judging from the
community's projected population in the year 2015, its Police Department will need two
additional full-time officers on staff to meet the community's need. In light of this, the
community should plan by locating funding sources for these purposes.
McIntyre's police station is located on its main street. This facility was constructed in 1988.
The police department has two vehicles that are in good condition along with one that is in
fair condition. The facility has no jail, and prisoners are detained in the City of Gordon's
facility. The department is made up of three staff persons, including two sworn officers and
one police chief.
The ratio of officers to residents is 5.43 to 1,000 residents, and this meets the national
average standards of 2.65 officers for every 1,000 residents. Though the police department
meets the standards, the community should still plan towards a capital improvements
program that will enable it to replace its vehicles.
Toomsboro has a police department that is also located on its main street. The facility was
constructed in 1970 and has no cells. There is only one car for patrol and other services, and
the department staff is made up of two part-time officers. The ratio of officers to residents
is 1.62 officers to 1000 residents, and this is below the national average of 2.65 officers to
1,000 residents. To alleviate these problems, the community should research funding
sources for its police department.
2. Fire Protection
Wilkinson County has two fire stations that are located in High Hill and Nickelsville. The
station in High Hill is located on Stuckey Road. It occupies 2,400 square feet, was built in
1995, and staffs ten certified volunteer firefighters and one fire chief. The station has one
fire knocker and one brush truck. Its current ISO rating is eight. The other station,
Nickelsville, is located at the U.S. Highway 441 and Ga. 112 intersection. This station was
built in 1991 and has a square footage of 1,600. This station staffs eighteen certified
volunteer firefighters and one fire chief. The county has an ISO rating of eight.
Though the fire stations appear to meet the needs of the community at this time, the county
should consider installing dry fire hydrants in order to lower its ISO ratings.
Allentown has a fire station that is located along Allen Avenue. This station is staffed by
eighteen certified volunteer fire persons and one fire chief. The station occupies 1,200
square feet and was built in 1965. In addition, the station is served by two pumper trucks
that are in fair condition, and the station has radio equipment but needs pagers for each fire
person. The ISO rating of for Allentown is eight.
As with the county, Allentown should consider installing dry fire hydrants in order to reduce
the ISO rating. Also, the community should research funding sources for the purposes of
upgrading the current fire stations.
The City of Gordon has a fire station that is staffed by eleven volunteers. The station is
located along Hooks Street and was built in 1987. The department consists of three fire
trucks and occupies 3,600 square feet. The city has an ISO rating of seven. Though Gordon
is rated higher than the neighboring communities, the City should still research ways to
improve the current standards of its fire station.
Irwinton's fire station is staffed by ten volunteers and is located adjacent to the city hall
along Highway 57. This station was built in 1957 and occupies a square footage of 497. In
addition, the station has only one pumper truck, and the city is rated eight on the ISO rating
system. The community should consider installing more dry hydrants in order to lower its
current ISO rating.
Ivey depends upon the City of Gordon and the county for its fire services. Considering its
growing population, the community should consider ways to improve protection to include
greater cooperation with neighboring communities.
McIntyre has a fire station that is staffed by ten volunteers. This station is equipped with two
pumpers. The station occupies 2,640 square feet of space and was built in 1981. Its ISO
rating is eight. The community needs to install more dry fire hydrants and further research
ways to reduce its current ISO rating.
Toomsboro has a fire station that was constructed in 1970 with a square footage of 1,200.
The station has two fire pumpers and is staffed by ten volunteers. The city has an ISO rating
of eight. To reduce this rating, the community should upgrade its equipment and install more
3. Emergency Medical System
Wilkinson County's emergency service is staffed by 22 persons. The system has two
ambulances located on Pine Street in McIntyre. The cities do not have an EMS, but rather
depend on the county's services.
To alleviate the workload of the county's EMS, some of its cities should consider a volunteer
community response system that does not transport the victim to the hospital, but provides
first aid services until the ambulance arrives to transport the victim. The county and its cities
should research ways to fund a community response system.
G. HOSPITALS AND PUBLIC HEALTH FACILITIES
Neither Wilkinson County nor its cities have a hospital. Extensive and adequate medical
services are provided in the cities of Macon, Warner Robins, Milledgeville, and Dublin. The
city of Macon has an expansive medical community that includes Mercer Medical School,
the Medical Center of Central Georgia, and the HCA Medical Center. The planned rural
transit system is expected to improve medical services for residents of the county by
providing transportation to Macon. Gordon and Irwinton have Health Departments; the
Gordon facility needs to be expanded to meet growing needs.
The county does not have a recreation director or organized recreation program. Though
there are recreation facilities in the county's middle and high schools, there is still a need for
community recreation programs. The county has acquired property and is currently
developing a recreation complex. The completion of the project is expected to take several
years to finalize. The complex is intended to serve all of Wilkinson County and its cities.
The City of Gordon has recreation facilities on a 10-acre site that includes a baseball practice
field, a half-mile walking track, two unlighted tennis courts, picnic area with tables and
playground equipment. The facility was acquired from the Board of education. The City of
Gordon provides the maintenance and up-keep, however, no staff is provided.
Education and recreation are closely related. In a work-oriented society, it is possible to
forget or neglect the importance of recreation. However, many communities have used
recreation to build the self-esteem of at-risk youth and to curb or prevent illegal drug use.
To this end, the county and its cities need a recreational facility and a director to oversee this.
This cost could be shared among the communities and perhaps a neighboring county. A
dedicated recreation director could then most efficiently use available resources to organize
programs for the community.
I. GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Wilkinson County has a courthouse, two fire stations, and a public works building. The
county's courthouse was built in 1924 in Irwinton and currently is in need of repairs. In
addition to maintenance, space is also a concern. Allentown, Gordon, Irwinton, McIntyre,
and Toomsboro all have fire stations, and the community wholeheartedly agrees that these
facilities are in need of upgrades and improvements.
J. EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES
The educational needs of Wilkinson County, Allentown, Gordon, Irwinton, Ivey, McIntyre,
and Toomsboro are served by the Wilkinson County Board of Education. These include
elementary, middle, and high schools all located in one complex along Highway 57 in
Irwinton. The county's primary school has a staff of 39 and covers grades Pre-Kindergarten
through second grade. The building was constructed in 1958 and renovated in 1990. It has
a capacity of 479 pupils but houses 539 pupils. To reduce overcrowding, there is an urgent
need to expand the building to accommodate its growing student population.
The elementary school staffs 34 teachers and covers grades three through five. The building
was constructed in 1968 and renovated in 1992. In addition, the building has a capacity of
498 pupils, and enrollment stands at 498. In light of this, the elementary school will need
Located on 44 acres along with the elementary school is the county's middle school. The
middle school has a staff strength of 33 and includes grades six through eight. The facility
was constructed in 1968 and renovated in 1992. In 1971 an addition was made to the
building in order to accommodate more students. The school has a capacity of 423 students
and currently enrolls 453 students. There is a need to expand the building in order to
accommodate the increasing student population.
The county's high school is also located at the same site as the elementary, primary, and
middle schools. It has 36 teachers and covers grades nine through twelve. The building was
constructed in 1954 and renovated in 1971 and 1988. The condition of the building is still
not up-to-par. The capacity of the facility is 476 students, but 536 students are currently
enrolled. As with the other school buildings, the high school is in need of expansion and
There are no post secondary or vocational training facilities in the county, nor are there adult
educational opportunities in the communities.
K. LIBRARIES AND CULTURAL FACILITIES
The county has two libraries, one in Gordon and the other in Irwinton. Both libraries were
built in 1987. Each library houses one meeting room and provides public access to fax
machines, computer, and copiers. In addition, the libraries provide pre-school and club
reading programs. Each library is staffed by one full-time person and volunteers.
The state provides an allotment to support the libraries. Funds are also provided by the
Wilkinson County Board of Education. In spite of these funding sources, money is still a
concern for continued operation of the facilities. Gordon and Ivey jointly provide the
majority of financial support for their library. The county lacks cultural outlets and needs
to develop such facilities for its citizens.
L. SUMMARY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Wilkinson County has major highways, collectors, and minor collector roads extending the
lengths of the county. These include Highway 51 connecting Toomsboro and the City of
Macon, Highway 441 connecting Irwinton, Nickelsville, and McIntyre to the cities of
Milledgeville and Dublin, and Highway 243 that connects Gordon and Ivey to the City of
An organized recreation program would add much to the overall quality of life and education
of the residents of each community. Currently, there is no recreation director, however, the
county and its communities should consider hiring a director, with the expense for the
program to be shared among them. The communities have adequate library services, with
these libraries serving as a cultural focal point for the communities, but more can be done
to effectively maximize the use and availability of the libraries.
Population growth is prominent in the communities of Ivey and Allentown and will demand
increased services such as water, sewer, and heightened emergency, fire, and police
protection. The sheriff and police departments in each community need more deputies and
newer equipment in order to adequately patrol and protect the residents. The fire
departments need to be re-evaluated by the ISO, and some of the firefighting equipment is
near the end of its useful life and needs replacing or upgrading.
All of these needs require substantial capital, and as with most communities, capital is
extremely limited. It is, therefore, imperative that Wilkinson County and its communities
adopt capital improvements programs to guide their decisions and identify funds as they are
needed for prioritized expenses. These capital improvements programs would make the most
efficient use of the communities' limited funds and direct resources where the need is
COMMUNITY FACILITIES MAPS
The social and economic viability of a locality often depends upon the degree to which it is
successfully able to house its population. A decent and safe living environment is essential
for a local community to become a popular place for residential development. In order to
achieve such an environment, the available housing stock must meet certain requirements.
Physically, individual homes must have sound construction and should include basic health
and safety features. Housing units should be affordable to local residents and represent a
good investment for homeowners. On an intangible level, a decent home provides a feeling
of safety, security, and privacy to its occupants, and improves their general well being.
Housing becomes an asset to the community as a whole, since a good quality housing stock
raises overall property values and improves people's perceptions of their neighborhoods and
This element of the comprehensive plan evaluates the housing stock in Wilkinson County,
Allentown, Ivey, Gordon, Irwinton, McIntyre, and Toomsboro to identify areas where
improvements or changes are needed to meet the current and future housing needs of each
location. Housing stock trends and characteristics of housing units in terms of occupancy
patterns, dwelling type, age, and condition of units as well as affordability will be analyzed
to determine the nature of the existing housing market. Based on these analyses, current and
future housing needs can be determined. Such a determination is necessary for developing
the community's policies and programs and enables officials to assign priority to identified
B. HOUSEHOLD CHARACTERISTICS
The household is the basic unit that determines the pattern of housing in a community.
Hence, the nature of the household trends and characteristics deserves attention in the
process of planning for any community. Past and future projected trends in the number and
characteristics of households for Wilkinson County and the cities of Allentown, Ivey,
Gordon, Irwinton, McIntyre, and Toomsboro are shown on Tables 7.1 to 7.7. Tables 7.8 to
7.14 show the percentage housing population increases for the county and cities over time.
From these tables, it is apparent that Wilkinson County experienced a population and
household increase between 1970 and 1990, as Ivey and McIntyre also experienced this
increase. The cities of Allentown, Gordon, Irwinton, and Toomsboro experienced a decrease
in population and household growth in the same period. The growth in the county's
population is further reflected in the growth recorded in its housing stock for the same time
period. Following a trend toward smaller household size in the state, Wilkinson County and
all incorporated areas experienced a reduction in average population per household.
The city of Gordon had a population decrease of -3.3 percent between 1970 and 1990 despite
its household growth of 15 percent (see Table 7.3). By the year 2015, however, Gordon is
expected to experience a population increase of 15.3 percent and a housing increase of only
6.3 percent. Despite this trend, the average population per household in Gordon is projected
to decrease from 2.79 to 2.73 between 1990 and 2015.
HISTORIC POPULATION AND HOUSING TRENDS (Wilkinson County)
HISTORIC POPULATION AND HOUSING TRENDS (Allentown)
HISTORIC POPULATION AND HOUSING TRENDS (Gordon)
HISTORIC POPULATION AND HOUSING TRENDS (Irwinton)
HISTORIC POPULATION AND HOUSING TRENDS (Ivey)
HISTORIC POPULATION AND HOUSING TRENDS (McIntyre)
HISTORIC POPULATION AND HOUSING TRENDS (Toomsboro)
As was discussed in the population element section of this plan, population growth and
decline in a community occurs due to natural increase or decrease, and net migration.
Natural increases in a population occur when the number of persons born in the community
exceeds the number of persons that die during the same time period. On the other hand, the
difference between the number of new residents into the community and the number of
residents moving away constitutes the net migration component of the population change.
Both of these components of a population change influence the nature of household
formation. If population growth in a community is attributed mainly to net migration, then
the community is gaining more households. However, if the increase in population of a
community is attributed mainly to a natural increase, then household size is increasing. If
the former scenario is the case, then there is an increase in the demand for new homes. When
the latter is the case, however, the community has a greater need for making improvements
to the existing housing stock in order to accommodate the growing household members.
The majority of growth occurring in Wilkinson County and its communities is largely due to a net migration. This notion is reflected in Table 7.1, where the average number of persons in the household is on the decrease. Though there was negative net natural increase in the communities, it was offset by the dominance of the net migration, and as a consequence, the average household size declined by a small amount in the other communities. In keeping with overall population trends, the increase in population in the communities, except for Ivey, is not that significant.
C. HOUSING STOCK
The housing industry within a community is closely related to the state of its local economy.
Since the kaolin and timber industries are the dominant employers in Wilkinson County and
its respective cities, it is reasonable to assume that changes in these industries will affect both
the population growth and housing stock. So far, housing construction in each of the
communities has varied with varying business cycles.
According to the 1990 U. S Census Bureau, Wilkinson County had a total of 4,151 housing
units. Of these units, 3,619 were occupied resulting in a vacancy rate of 13 percent. The
predominant type of housing in 1990 was single-family residential dwellings whether owner
or renter-occupied. Tables 7.8 to 7.14 provide various characteristics and show trends in
Wilkinson's housing stock between 1970 and 2015.
Interpreting housing statistics from the Census Bureau was complicated by changes in
definitions and reporting standards. Housing characteristics recorded changed from
presenting only year-round housing units in 1970 to showing all housing units in 1990. The
Seasonal/Migratory, Seasonal/Recreational, and Migratory figures have already been counted
in the total units for each year shown. Also note that the Census Bureau changed the way
it reports seasonal, migratory, and recreational housing units in 1990.
The future anticipated needs for housing stock is derived from the 1990 break-down due to
the lack of recorded information for Allentown, Irwinton, Ivey, McIntyre, and Toomsboro.
Wilkinson County shows a slow anticipated increase in housing stock through 2015. It
should also be noted that in 1990 there were 532 vacant housing units. This suggests that
there is a greater need for making improvements to the existing housing stock than for new
Further analysis of Wilkinson's housing stock shows that of the 3,619 occupied housing
units, owner- occupied units accounted for 86.1 percent, while 18.9 percent were renter-occupied, and 14.7 percent were vacant (see Table 7.8). Owner-occupied units increased
between 1980 and 1990 by 12.5 percent, while the number of rental units decreased by 7.8
percent. One of the reasons for the decrease in renter-occupied housing units within the
county may be attributed to annexations by Ivey and Allentown during the same time period.
The housing stock in Allentown appears to be slowly increasing over time. The 1990 data
shows that of the 123 total housing units in the community, 105 are occupied, leaving a
vacancy rate of 14 percent. Following current trends, Allentown can anticipate a need for
mostly single-family new housing by 2015.
Of the 105 occupied housing units, 9.5 percent are renter-occupied, while 90.5 percent are owner-occupied. No data on the city's renter vacancy rate was available. However, local officials indicate that renter-occupied homes have lower vacancy rates than owner-occupied homes within Allentown.
Table 7.10 shows the city of Gordon's housing stock between 1970 and 2015. According
to this table, derived from the U.S. Housing Census, a majority of the housing units in the
city are single-family residential units.
An analysis of this table shows that single-family units are predominant in the city.
However, the single-family housing stock is decreasing, while the number of mobile homes
within the city is significantly increasing. Between 1970 and 1980, single-family housing
units grew by 13.4 percent, while mobile homes grew by 225 percent. However, between
1980 and 1990, single-family homes decreased by 14 percent, while mobile homes grew by
75 percent. There is a need in Gordon to maintain and improve the existing single-family
housing stock to prevent its continuing decline. New units are indicated through 2015 only
in cases of dilapidated condition due to the existing vacancy of 82 units.
Table 7.10 also identifies the housing occupancy rate in Gordon. In 1990, Gordon had a total
occupancy rate of 91.5 percent (884 units), and the city's vacancy rate was only 8.4 percent.
Of the 884 occupied housing units, 74 percent are owner-occupied while 26 percent are
renter-occupied. In all, 2.1 percent of owner-occupied housing units are vacant, while renter-
occupied units have a vacancy rate of 6.9 percent.
Available data for 1990 shows single-family housing units as predominant, accounting for
75.18 percent of all housing units in the community. Local officials indicate that there has
been a decline in the construction of single-family homes and an increase in mobile home
stock in Irwinton during the past several years. The current trend in housing stock
anticipates a decline in housing units through 2015. This is due to the projected decrease in
Table 7.11 further indicates that of the community's 282 housing units, 238 units (84
percent) are occupied, while 44 units (16 percent) are vacant. An analysis of these figures
shows that of the 238 occupied units in the community, 78 percent are owner-occupied,
while 22 percent are renter-occupied. Of the 44 vacant units, 13.3 percent are rental units
while 1.1 percent are owner-occupied units.
The housing stock of Ivey has experienced a significant increase from 1970 (79 units) to 1990 (492 units). Available data for 1990 shows that of the 492 housing units in the community, 42.88 percent are traditional single-family homes, 57.11 percent are mobile homes, and 11.79 percent are seasonal or recreational units. The total unit projection has the housing stock of Ivey doubling by 2015. This is due to the shrinking average population per household and the recently growing population provided by the development of the Holiday Hills Country Club on Lake Tchukolaho. Although the trend shows a large increase, the actual growth in housing need is expected to be much lower since there are no other planned large developments in the area.
Table 7.12 also indicates that of the 393 occupied housing units in Ivey, 90 percent are
owner- occupied, while only 10 percent are renter-occupied. Further analysis of this table
reveals that seven percent of the community's renter-occupied homes are vacant, while only
1.1 percent of its owner-occupied homes are vacant.
Available data for 1990 indicates that, of the 210 housing units in the community, 67.11
percent are traditional single-family units, 29 percent are mobile homes, and only 3.8 percent
are multi-family residential units. Housing projections through 2015 suggest that the total
units needed will increase slowly from 210 in 1990 to 268 in 2015. McIntyre should
maintain the condition of the existing housing stock to provide for future housing needs.
Table 7.13 also shows that 71.4 percent of the town's total housing units are occupied and
15.2 percent are vacant. Further analysis reveals that, of the 178 occupied housing units, 78
percent are owner-occupied, while 21 percent are renter-occupied. In addition, 1.4 percent
of all vacant units are owner-related units, while 24 percent are rental units.
Data for 1990 indicates that, of the 253 housing units in the community, 79.45 percent are
traditional single-family residential units, while 20.55 percent are mobile homes (see Table
7.14). There were no multi-family residential units for this time period. The housing stock
projection shows a decreasing need for new housing in Toomsboro considering the current
amount of vacancies. Toomsboro should maintain or improve existing housing stock to meet
future housing needs.
Table 7.14 also shows that, of the 253 housing units in the community, 66.8 percent are
owner-occupied, 21.7 percent are renter occupied, and 11.5 percent are vacant. Also, the
vacancy rate for owner-occupied units is only 1.2 percent while the rate for renter-occupied
units is 6.8 percent.
D. AGE AND CONDITION OF HOUSING
The parameters used in evaluating the degree of substandard housing were as follows: units
built before 1939 and units lacking complete plumbing. While these indicators are only
rough approximations of local housing conditions, they provide a standardized measure for
evaluating the age and condition of a particular community's housing stock.
After compiling data on the above indicators, these data were then compared to the state
average as shown in Table 7.15.
As represented in Table 7.16, data from 1970 shows that approximately 46 percent of the
total housing units in Wilkinson County were built before 1939. This figure indicates that
the county was over-represented in housing stock built before 1930 when compared with the
state average of 28 percent for the same period. Though, these rates have been declining
since 1970, as illustrated by the county's 1990 rate of only 10 percent (still slightly higher
than the state's average for the same time period), caution should be exercised when
analyzing these rates. As mentioned earlier, single-family homes in Wilkinson County are
being quickly replaced by mobile homes. Therefore, though homes built prior to 1939 are
rapidly declining as a percentage of total housing units, they are being replaced by mobile
homes that have a useful life that is considerably shorter than the useful life associated with
Wilkinson County also has a higher percentage of units lacking adequate or complete
plumbing than the state average during each time period. However, the percentage of homes
lacking complete plumbing facilities has dramatically decreased from 1970 to 1990.
No data was available for assessing Allentown's housing conditions between 1970 and 1990.
However, data for 1990 indicates that the percentage of the community's housing units built
before 1939 is far greater than the statewide average for the same time period. Allentown's
percentage of homes lacking complete plumbing facilities mirrors that of the state's for 1990.
Available data for the city of Gordon indicates that 44 percent of its 1970 housing stock was
built before 1939. This rate, though lower than the county's rate, was significantly higher
than the state average of 28 percent for 1970. A review of the 1980 an 1990 rates shows that
housing units built before 1939 have steadily declined as a percentage of the total housing
units in Gordon. The city's 1990 rate is the same as the county's, but it is still higher than
the state average of eight percent. Housing units lacking adequate plumbing facilities have
also dramatically reduced in Gordon from 1970 to 1990. In 1990, this percentage mirrored
the state's average.
No data was available for the City of Irwinton for its 1970 and 1980 housing conditions.
However, data for 1990 shows that the percentage of units built in the community before
1939, as well as those with incomplete plumbing facilities, are higher than the state's
Ivey, as discussed in the population element of this plan, is the fastest growing community
in Wilkinson County. Table 7.20 indicates that the percentage of housing units built before
1939, along with the percentage of housing units lacking complete plumbing, is considerably
lower than the county and state averages.
Available data for McIntyre shows that the percentage of housing units built before 1939 is higher than the county and state averages for the same time period. Also, the percentage of housing units lacking complete plumbing facilities is higher than the county and state averages.
Table 7.22 shows that Toomsboro, like most communities in Wilkinson County, has a large
percentage of its total housing units built before 1939. In addition, the percentage of units
lacking complete plumbing is quite high in Toomsboro when compared with the state and
county averages for the same time period.
E. HOUSING COSTS
Tables 7.24 through 7.30 show the trend in median values of housing units along with the
median rental costs for Wilkinson County from 1970 to 1990. Table 7.24 reveals that the
median value of homes in Wilkinson County is 78.25 percent lower than the median value
of owner-occupied homes in the state. Though the median value of homes in the county rose
by 81 percent between 1980 and 1990, along with median value of rent (117 percent),
housing costs in the county is still much lower when compared to the state.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), housing is
considered affordable when "monthly shelter costs do not exceed one-third of a person's
monthly income." The 1990 U.S. Census data on the monthly cost for mortgage and non-mortgage units shows monthly costs for owner- and renter-occupied housing units for
Wilkinson County (see Table 7.24). According to this table, the median rent in Wilkinson
County is $135 per month. When this figure is computed with the county's 1990 per capita
monthly income of $1,040, the result reveals that county residents spend approximately 12
percent of their monthly income on rent. When this same calculation is applied to the state's
figures, the results indicate that, on average, state residents spend approximately 27 percent
of their monthly income on housing, indicating that housing is affordable in Wilkinson
Because no data was available for Allentown, the Middle Georgia RDC derived a
computation of the county's figures by utilizing a ratio method. As seen in Table 7.25,
Allentown's trends in housing costs are similar to those seen in the county. However,
applying HUD's affordability parameter to housing affordability in this community reveals
that approximately 12 percent of monthly income is spent on housing. Again, this figure is
considerably lower than the state's average. It is reasonable to conclude that housing is
affordable in Allentown.
The city of Gordon's housing costs are less than the state's but slightly higher than the
county's housing costs. Utilizing HUD's standards for affordable housing, it can be
concluded that affordable housing exists in Gordon.
Irwinton, like the county and neighboring communities, has affordable housing costs. On
average, residents in Irwinton only spend 16 percent of their per capita income on housing.
Irwinton's housing cost is lower than the state's but higher than the county's. One reason
that the community's affordability standards are higher than the county's may be attributed
to the decline in Irwinton's housing stock.
In the Town of Ivey, residents spend approximately 20 percent of their monthly income on
housing. Compared to the county, this figure is relatively high. However, when the figure
is compared to the state's rate, 27 percent, the cost of housing in Ivey is relatively low.
Housing costs for McIntyre are higher than housing costs for Wilkinson County. McIntyre's
housing costs of approximately 26 percent indicate that housing is relatively affordable in
the community. McIntyre's housing cost is much higher than the county's average of 13
percent. One reason for the high cost of housing in McIntyre could be attributed to the city's
declining housing stock and high rate of substandard vacant housing units.
Toomsboro's housing cost is affordable by HUD's standard. The city's housing costs are
also comparable to those in neighboring communities. Toomsboro residents pay
approximately 13 percent of their per capita monthly income on housing. However, with a
steady decline in the community's housing stock, this rate is not expected to increase by the
F. HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
1. Non-Profit Organizations
One of the most effective methods of addressing the housing needs of low income people is
to bring together the public and the private sector as partners. The withdrawal of federal
government funding for low income housing during the past few years removed incentives
for the private sector to provide affordable low-income housing. In many areas of the
country, non-profit housing organizations are stepping in to ensure that low-income persons
are given access to affordable housing. In addition, some federal programs are still available
that provide financing to local communities to help meet the needs of low income persons.
a. Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing
opportunities through the use of volunteer labor and materials for low- and moderate- income
households. Families benefiting from these projects pay back building costs without interest
within 15 to 30 years of moving into a unit. In addition, no repayment is required for the
volunteer labor or for donated materials. Families interested in obtaining assistance from
Habitat for Humanity must meet certain minimum income criteria established by the
b. Community Action Agency
The Middle Georgia Community Action Agency is a community-based human service
delivery organization which seeks funds from public and private sources to provide
weatherization services for the Central Georgia Area. These services are available for both
owners and renters of occupied housing units. The purpose of this program is to make
available to income eligible households energy-related repairs for free.
To participate in this program, the individual or family is required to request assistance from
the agency. If qualified, a staff technician visits the home to assess possible repairs. Grants
are available for materials. This agency also operates the Hope III program which provides
home ownership opportunities to eligible families.
2. Funding Sources
The success of economic and housing development in rural areas depends to a large extent
on available internal and external funding sources, along with an initiative on the part of
community leaders to affect changes. These leaders can be private or public officials. Some
of the common funding sources are listed below:
In addition to the funding sources identified above, there are other housing programs such
as HUD's Section 8 Rental Subsidy Program and numerous programs offered by the state
through the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority. Many housing related programs offer
funding opportunities and are available for renters as well as owners.
G. SUMMARY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Overall, Wilkinson County and its incorporated governments have a housing surplus. The increasing vacancy rate in the county is probably a result of the existence of substandard housing units and the county's slow population growth. As the number of households and the population in each community begins to slowly increase, more housing units will be needed. Some of the need for housing may be satisfied by current vacant housing. The county and towns should inventory housing to determine the condition of the present housing stock and take appropriate measures to meet future housing needs. Tables 7.1 through 7.8 show that each community will primarily see a decrease in the average number of people per household through the year 2015. However, an increase in the growth and economic development of Wilkinson County may generate an increase in the county's total population.
As the number of older housing units in the county declines, additional new housing units
will be needed to fulfill the county's demand for housing opportunities. The county and each
respective city may wish to take steps necessary to reduce the number of mobile homes used
to fulfill housing opportunities in the future. As previously discussed, mobile homes cannot
provide adequate and safe shelter for the same amount of time that a traditional single-family
residential dwelling offers.
Housing affordability does not appear to be a problem for Wilkinson County or any of the local communities. In general, each community's housing cost is substantially lower than the statewide average. In addition, residents of the county and each of the cities spend considerably less of their monthly per capita income on housing than residents in other areas of the state. Affordable housing is often utilized by businesses when making locational decisions, and the county should use its low housing cost as a selling factor when attempting to attract new businesses.
Population projections based on past trends indicate that most of the communities in
Wilkinson County will slowly increase over the next 20 years. As a result, the number of
housing units needed in each community is expected in slowly increase. Each of the local
jurisdictions in the county already meet or exceed affordable housing requirements. A
comprehensive county-wide look at housing opportunities does not reveal any extensive
housing deficiencies in any community. While looking towards the future, county and city
officials should focus on insuring that future housing needs are recognized and met. Slow
population growth may result in slow housing growth. If this happens, the housing stock in
each community is likely to become older and less suitable for meeting the needs of the
By anticipating future housing needs now, Wilkinson County and each of the municipalities can begin to take the steps necessary for ensuring high quality and affordable housing in the future. While the cities and the county can attempt to meet future housing demands separately, a more comprehensive approach may ensure affordable housing continues to be available to residents throughout the county. A task force on affordable housing, made up of people with varying backgrounds and professions, could be utilized to predict future housing needs throughout the county, thereby giving ample time to ensure that those needs are met.
While the existing land use element inventories the current land uses within the community
and examines the manner in which those uses were influenced by various factors, the future
land use element examines forecasts for population, housing, economic development, and
community facilities. Based on these projections, it attempts to predict the manner in which
future physical development is likely to occur. It further analyzes the feasibility of
continuing past development trends and discusses possible strategies for bringing about
changes. In light of these, the future land use map is an important part of this element,
because it is a visual representation of the community's expected development. The policy
implications section at the end of this element lays the foundation for proposing goals,
objectives, and policies to guide future development.
1. Future Land Use Acreage
Along with the existing and future land use maps are the future land use projections. These
projections form an important part of the land use element. The projected acreage figures
in Tables 8.1 through 8.5 were derived using population and household projections, average
residential densities, and an analysis of existing acreage distribution. Since these projections
are based on several assumptions concerning the future, they should be viewed as one of
many possible outcomes. However, they do help demonstrate the potential magnitude to
which further land development for any particular use is likely to occur.
2. Acreage Projection Methodology and Factors Influencing Future
The acreage projections for various uses were derived using different methods, depending
on the land use. The primary method applied to project land area for all uses except
agriculture/forestry, residential, and park/recreation/conservation was the "population per
acre" method. Under this approach, the ratio of the 1995 population to the total acreage for
each use in 1995 (obtained from the land use survey) was calculated. This ratio was then
applied to projection population figures for 2000, 2010, and 2015 to determine the acreage
needs for each use in those years.
Acreage figures for residential uses were developed using a different methodology, one based on projected number of housing units and existing density of units. Those of parks/recreation/conservation were derived using guidelines provided by the National Recreational Association. Agricultural/forestry and vacant/undeveloped were derived from the remaining areas after deducting the acreage under other uses from the total acreage for the county or the city. The following section discusses these projections in detail.
B. RESIDENTIAL LAND USE
1. Wilkinson County
The 1995 land use survey disclosed approximately 5,307 acres for residential uses (see Table
8.1). As public facilities and infrastructure improvements become available and the
population increases, demand for additional land for residential purposes will accelerate.
Furthermore, as the current housing stock deteriorates, additional acreage may be needed for
replacement housing. Vacant and undeveloped land, as well as agriculture and forestry
acreage, can be easily converted for residential purposes and can adequately meet all future
The future residential land use is expected to increase very little in the next twenty years in
all cities within the county, with the exception of Gordon and Ivey. There are currently
adequate land uses classified for agriculture/forestry purposes as well as existing vacant and
undeveloped uses within each of the cities.
C. COMMERCIAL LAND USE
There are a total of 219 acres of commercial property in Wilkinson County. This is a ratio
of 21.3 acres of commercial land use per 1,000 persons. Based on the population per acre
method, this is adequate acreage to meet the current and projected population needs of the
county. The ratio should periodically be reviewed to ensure continued balance and that
community needs for commercial land are being met.
D. INDUSTRIAL LAND USE
1. Wilkinson County
One of the objectives of a future land use plan is to ensure that sufficient land is available
and properly classified to meet the needs of a variety of uses at some future time. Wilkinson
County currently has 7,634 acres of land used for industrial purposes. This is far above the
norm for a rural county with a population of under 10,000. The high percentage of acreage
in this classification is a result of extensive kaolin mining and processing facilities. This
industry and its service-support firms dominate the local economy.
The kaolin industry is land-intensive and dependent upon the location of the natural
resources. The high concentration of this industry in the county and cities dictates that
substantial acreage remain available for the growth and development of this industry. Hence,
even though the population in the unincorporated area of Wilkinson County is expected to
decrease slightly through 2015, the demand for industrial property needed to support the
kaolin industry is expected to increase.
Industrial land use in the cities, with the exception of Gordon, is projected to remain
relatively stable over the planning period. Modest increases are expected in Gordon because
of existing utility systems and a major kaolin processing plant in the city.
Population projections indicate that the cities should jointly, and preferably in association
with the county, develop additional acreage for industrial uses particularly an industrial park.
A site of approximately 1,000 acres should be identified for this purpose.
E. PUBLIC/INSTITUTIONAL LAND USE
Public/institutional land uses will increase in the cities and county as growth occurs. The
population of the county is expected to grow modestly and, therefore, will require additional
services. This situation implies the need for more administrative facilities and additional
utility buildings. These uses are proposed to be located in conjunction with commercial uses
in or near the population centers.
F. TRANSPORTATION/COMMUNICATIONS/UTILITIES LAND USE
Since most of the developments in the growing communities are expected to occur along
existing road networks, road surface areas are not expected to increase significantly. Though
some developers may create housing that will require additional roads, this, however, will
be financed by the developer and given to the communities for maintenance. Though the
growing communities will require additional power lines, this plan does not require any land
to be set aside for this as they will be constructed along existing rights-of-way. Wilkinson
County does not have a water or sewerage system. However, the need for such services, as
well as the need and demand for fire and police protection, will increase as the population
increases and development occurs. The implication is that the county will likely be requested
to provide additional or increased levels of services in at least some of these categories.
The cities are projected to have population growth and will experience similar demands for
increased levels of services. The lack of sewerage treatment and collection systems will
restrict growth in all the cities except Gordon, which has sewerage treatment facilities. The
cities will be called upon by residents and developers to address these services issues and
provide services that have not been provided in the past. While land uses currently
committed to transportation/communications/utilities may be adequate for the present,
additional land will be necessary in the cities in the future.
G. PARK/RECREATION/CONSERVATION LAND USE
1. Wilkinson County
Currently, there are 715 acres designated for park/recreation/conservation purposes in
Wilkinson County. This is sufficient acreage to meet the current and projected need based
on the National Recreation Association standard of 10.5 acres per 1,000 residents. The
county should periodically review the ratio of passive to active uses to ensure balance and
meet community expectations.
As the county becomes more involved in providing recreational facilities and opportunities
for its residents, additional acreage will be needed. The new complex being built near
Irwinton will serve most of the immediate needs of the county. However, this facility will
require substantial development in coming years to adequately meet expected recreational
needs. As public interest and demand for recreation increases, the county may need to
develop new recreation complexes in other areas to ensure that recreational opportunities are
available to all residents.
Currently, there are 177 acres of land used for park/recreation/conservation within the
incorporated areas. According to the National Recreation Association standards, this exceeds
the requirements by almost 200 percent. The cities should review the ratio of passive to
active park/recreation/conservation uses to ensure balance and to meet community
H. AGRICULTURE/FORESTRY LAND USE
1. Wilkinson County
Over 95 percent of the land in Wilkinson County is committed to agriculture and forestry uses. This land use classification has remained relatively constant over the past 15 years, and the pattern is expected to continue. With slow growth in the county, there appears to be little or no threat to agriculture and forestry land uses.
Unless dramatic changes in development patterns and growth accelerates well beyond
projections, there is sufficient vacant land to meet the needs. Agriculture/forestry lands
should not be adversely impacted by the anticipated growth.
I. VACANT/UNDEVELOPED LAND USE
1. Wilkinson County
As population growth and urbanization occurs in the immediate vicinity of the cities, land
that is currently vacant or undeveloped will be converted to some developed use. Other open
space lands, such as forest land and farmland, may also experience increased development
pressures. Consequently, a modest decline in vacant/undeveloped land is highly probable
for the county, especially if demand for kaolin increases and more of the reserve deposits
are mined and processed.
Vacant/undeveloped land in the incorporated cities is also projected to decline as population
growth occurs and additional utilities and services become available. There will also likely
be pressure on most of the cities' boundaries with annexation pressures being experienced
as densities increase and property tax issues are weighed against provision of services.
Population shifts within the county and the various cities will also impact the demands on
the different municipalities.
J. SUMMARY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
The future land use element is influenced by the analysis and findings in the other parts of
the plan. It is apparent that Wilkinson County will experience slow growth over the next
twenty-year planning period. The rate of growth should provide for adequate needs of the
county and six municipalities. However, slow growth will require the communities to seek
additional or alternative means to finance the necessary improvements and services. In
addition, the following factors need to be considered in policy formation:
1. Resources should be identified to locate 1,000 acres of land under public ownership
or control to develop that land for industrial uses and to market the facility.
2. The county and five of the six incorporated governments need to develop a system
for guiding growth and preserving and protecting future resources.
FUTURE LAND USE MAPS