COVINGTON — Three properties that Newton County purchased for the now-discontinued Bear Creek reservoir project have been sold back to the previous owners.
Attorney Jeff Strickland told Newton County’s Board of Commissioners on July 7 that the three properties are the first of about 10 whose owners have indicated an interest to exercise repurchase options for their properties. The repurchase options were triggered after the county was unable to obtain a 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to construct the reservoir after a number of years specified in the sales contracts.
The sales contract options required that the properties be repurchased for at least what the county paid for them originally.
The three properties repurchased by the original owners included:
♦ Steven Standridge and Melissa S. Standridge, .020 acres and easements totaling 2.136 acres for $14,000;
♦ Dianne H. Savage, .028 acres and easements totaling 1.154 acres and 1.154 acres for a total of $4,180; and
♦ Danny Clarence Anthony and Della J. Anthony, .123 acres and easements totaling 2.144 acres for $7,900.
Newton County spent about $22 million total for land acquisition, engineering, and consulting on the reservoir project before shelving it in 2015 after the Corps of Engineers informed the county that the project had been administratively withdrawn. The project became controversial due to the ongoing cost, the county’s inability to get a 404 permit, and changing population estimates that showed the county’s population would not grow to the level that would require an additional water supply.