Movies on the minds of visiting planners

Coweta County and the City of Newnan recently partnered to host attendees of the American Planning Association’s National Conference in Atlanta on a daylong tour of Senoia and the new Pinewood Studios facility in Fayette County. The mobile workshop was called “The Walking Dead of Senoia and Pinewood Studios Economic Development Driver.”

Professional planners from all over the country came to Senoia April 28 and were told the story of that town’s re-development including the award winning “Historic Senoia Project” and back lot infrastructure of Raleigh Studios for “The Walking Dead” and other productions.

Senoia Mayor Larry Owens, City Manager Richard Ferry, Downtown Development Authority Chair Suzanne Helfman, along with Scott Tigchelaar, president of Raleigh Studios and Terry Pylant of Historical Concepts, welcomed the group at a gathering at the Senoia United Methodist Church and briefed the group of 33 planners on the story of Senoia.

The guests were broken into smaller groups for a walking tour of downtown including sites where movies and television shows have been filmed in town. The groups were led by Coweta County and city of Newnan staff including Sandra Parker, comprehensive and strategic planner for the Coweta County Planning Dept., Tavores Edwards, transportation manager for Coweta County, Tracy Dunnavant, planning & zoning director for the city of Newnan and Tray Baggarly, director of event services for Coweta County.

After the tour, guests enjoyed lunch at downtown Senoia restaurants.

Following the trip through Senoia, the group was bused to Pinewood Studios where they were welcomed and given tours by Matt Forshee, president and CEO of the Fayette County Development Authority, Pete Frisina, director of the Community Service Division for Fayette County and Brian Wismer, community development director for the city of Fayetteville.

Months ago, the local group bid on hosting one of two mobile workshops highlighting planning issues in the Coweta area and the Senoia story was chosen. The Senoia workshops and others throughout metro Atlanta were part of the American Planning Association’s National Conference at the Georgia World Congress Center, held April 26-30, 2014.

“This was an excellent opportunity for us to showcase our county to planners from all over the country,” said Parker, who chaired the local organizing committee. “Being able to tell the story of how a small town has prospered through creative development and planning while also encouraging film production was something these attendees enjoyed learning about.”