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Posted: April 20, 2013 12:41 a.m.

Residents vote down ZIP code change

The votes are in and there will be no ZIP code change in eastern Newton County.

The proposed ZIP code change from Social Circle’s 30025 to Covington’s 30014 failed, as 269 property owners voted against the change in an official survey while only 59 supported it, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Michael Miles said late Friday.

As a result, medical manufacturer Baxter International will not be getting the Covington address it desired. Though it’s a particularly large industry, neither Baxter nor the entire Stanton Springs industrial park – which sits at the intersection of Newton, Walton and Morgan counties – would have received enough mail to justify its own ZIP code, Miles said previously.

Therefore, an entire chunk of Newton County, which included 616 separate addresses, had to have a ZIP code change in order to accommodate Baxter. The Postal Service sent out an official survey to each of those addresses, but the public overwhelmingly voted to keep its current address and forgo the hassle of notifying banks, billing companies and loved ones of an address change.

Miles said as far as he knows there is no alternative to this survey and he said the survey results cannot be appealed. He said in his opinion, without a substantial change in factors, a request for a re-vote later would constitute an appeal and would likely be rejected.

While some residents expressed the desire to have a Covington address since they live in Newton County, the vast majority appeared to feel the change would be an unneeded hassle. Those with ties to Social Circle also took offense at the fact their unique town name wasn’t wanted.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted last year to request the ZIP code change from the Postal Service. Former county commissioner Mort Ewing, who is also a member of the four-county Joint Development Authority that oversees Stanton Springs, said previously that Baxter requested the change. Baxter has not publicly said why it wants a Covington address, but Newton County officials say it’s because the company associates itself with Covington, referring to its planned $1 billion manufacturing campus as the Covington plant despite being geographically closer to Social Circle.

District 1 Commissioner John Douglas initially opposed the ZIP code change, in part because he received no heads up about the change and was surprised to find a ballot in his mail box in early March. Douglas contacted U.S. Congressman Paul Broun’s office to see if the federal government could force the Postal Service to give Baxter a Covington address without affecting everyone else, but Broun’s office said it couldn’t help. The change would have to come in the form of a local earmark to a bill and the Republican-controlled U.S. House has decided to not use such earmarks.

After all alternative avenues were explored, Douglas and the entire current Board of Commissioners expressed their support for the ZIP code change; apparently it was too late. The deadline to turn in the ballots – which residents had to buy postage for to send back in – was April 11, and the vote was more than four to one against a change.

The change would not have affected Postal Service operations, because the Social Circle ZIP code is served out of the Covington Carrier Annex on the Covington Bypass Road.

Sheriff Ezell Brown said previously the ZIP code change would help public safety officials be more efficient because they would know more quickly whether a particular address is in Newton County or Walton County. As it stands now, that Social Circle ZIP code extends to both counties. He said he didn’t see any downside to the change.

However, the point is now moot and the ZIP code status quo will remain for the foreseeable future.

 

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