COVINGTON — Newton County commissioners have voted to transfer the county’s right to secure options to purchase land at the Historic Heartland Megasite in eastern Newton County to the Newton County Industrial Development Authority.
The county purchased the options for $5,000 in October 2017, giving it the right to secure the land for what was described at the time as state-level industrial development projects. Commissioners were told in 2017 that the options were needed in order for negotiations on the prospects to move forward, although no development projects have yet materialized.
District 5 Commissioner Ronnie Cowan was the only commissioner to oppose the county’s purchase of the options. At the time Cowan said he was unsure that the county would have the wherewithal to issue industrial development bonds that might be needed by a large development prospect.
Last Tuesday, Cowan supported transferring the options to the IDA, saying that the authority is the appropriate body to issue any bonds that might be necessary for the type of large development that the megasite is designed to attract. After some discussion and explanation by Cowan, a majority of the commissioners agreed, with District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson abstaining.
The options transferred are for 217.782 acres owned by Susan Wahl and 716.884 acres owned by Bruce Vineyard of BPV Real Estate Holdings LLC. The property is located along Ga. Highway 11 in eastern Newton County, north of Interstate 20. The property, some of which lies in Walton County and in Social Circle, has been certified as Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development, which assures prospective developers that necessary state and federal requirements have already been met at the megasite. The certification affirms that crucial elements are in place for the properties, such as clear title, utilities, rail and road accessibility, environmental assessments and topographical survey.
Cowan said the Newton County megasite is one of two certified in the state, with the other near Dublin. “Of course, they are in competition for the big, worldwide manufacturing that needs a lot of room,” he said.