COVINGTON — How much money in material and labor costs has the city of Covington spent on Covington Town Center, how much does the developer owe the city, and when will the city be reimbursed by the developer? Until those questions are answered, City Council member Fleeta Baggett isn’t ready to approve any agreements for the project.
In her first meeting Monday night as a newly-elected council member, Baggett cast the lone dissenting vote on a motion to ratify a consensus by the previous City Council in October on an agreement reached with Harry Kitchen of The Foxfield Company for more work to be done at the development site on Alcovy Road.
Baggett, new Mayor Steve Horton, and new fellow council member Don Floyd were taking part in their first official meeting since winning election in November and being sworn in during the last council meeting in December.
The Covington Town Center project was initially touted as a 179.5-acre commercial mixed-use complex. But Foxfield hit snags in obtaining commercial clients, and CEO Kitchen came back before the City Council in the spring of 2018 seeking to include apartments due to pressure from potential commercial clients wanting to see more population density in the area. The council agreed, and since then Foxfield has been moving forward with making infrastructure improvements to the site and paving several roads into the project area.
Last October, the previous council reached a consensus on a letter negotiating an agreement with Foxfield on several projects related to the site:
♦ The city will receive the easement on Covington Town Center property for sewer line and outfalls, and Covington Town Center will contribute $500,000 for the work.
♦ The city will accept the three roads in the development — Town Center Boulevard, Foxfield Way, and Town Center Drive — with the issuance of a three-year maintenance bond by Foxfield.
♦ Covington Town Center will fund the purchase of light fixtures and installation, with the city putting the payments for power on a 12-month billing cycle.
At the work session prior to the council’s meeting Monday night, Horton advised the council that they would need to take action on the ratification of the consensus letter. Horton said Foxfield had been proceeding according to the letter and that the council needed to vote on it.
But Baggett raised concerns about a listing of materials for the development of more than $1 million that the city has already paid for and which city employees are installing, and asked what portion of the material and labor costs Foxfield is responsible for and what the terms were for the developer to reimburse the city for those costs.
No one could give a definite answer to her questions. Council member Hawnethia Williams said the negotiations on the project have been so fragmented that she doesn’t know everything that has happened and suggested the council hold a work session to get updated on the project.
Horton said he is already working on a work session for February and that Covington Town Center will be a part of it, but added that the council needed to go ahead and vote on the ratification.
During the council meeting, Kenneth Morgan made a motion to approve ratification of the letter. Williams seconded the motion and it was approved by a 5-1 vote, with Baggett casting the dissenting vote.