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Newton County commissioners approved a one-year renewal of the county’s legal services contract with Jarrard & Davis earlier this month.

COVINGTON — A decision on whether to exercise an option to purchase two parcels of land in the Covington-Newton County Industrial Park has been delayed two weeks while Newton commissioners weigh their alternatives.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners has been asked by Stone Mountain Industrial Park, owned by Pattillo Industrial Real Estate, to waive its option to purchase two parcels of land on Ga. Highway 142 totaling slightly more than 9 acres. The county has a first right of refusal on the property, which Pattillo purchased from the city and now intends to sell to a development prospect. According to County Manager Lloyd Kerr, the city has already waived its option to purchase the land.

According to county documents, the city sold the two tracts to Pattillo in the early 2000s. One tract, 0.8677 acres, was sold in 2003 for $19,957; the second tract, 8.2588 acres, was sold in 2000 for $142,283. Under its option agreement, the county can purchase the property for the same price for which it was sold to Pattillo.

“I feel comfortable saying that it is probably worth more than $142,000,” Kerr told commissioners last week.

In an Oct. 10 email to County Attorney Megan Martin and City Attorney Frank Turner Jr., Casey Farmer, vice president of land management for Pattillo, said that Pattillo “will be going under contract very soon to sell the entire site to a developer. We have a relatively short due diligence period where the (right of first refusal) will need to be waived in order for the purchaser to proceed to closing.”

Farmer pointed out that the city and county had previously waived their rights of first refusal on two other tracts in 2016 and 2018.

Chairman Marcello Banes suggested that the county consider purchasing the land and selling it to the Newton County Industrial Development Authority. Banes said the proceeds from the sale could help replenish the county’s fund balance.

Banes, who is a member of the IDA, said he would broach the subject with the IDA board.

District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz made the motion to table the discussion until the next BOC meeting on Nov. 19, and commissioners unanimously supported it.

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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