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Board OKs sewer service plan in Newton near future Eastside High campus
Commissioner objects to higher density development it could encourage near future school
Eastside High School construction
The $60 million future home for Eastside High School is scheduled to be finished in March 2022. - photo by Courtesy of Newton County School System

COVINGTON, Ga. — County commissioners have approved a long-delayed plan by Covington to provide sewer service near the future Eastside High School campus despite objections to the increased residential density it could encourage.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to allow Covington to provide sewer service to the unincorporated Deerfield area along U.S. Hwy. 278 as part of an agreement between Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority (NCWSA) and the city.

The area is already in the city’s water service area but is not designated for any entity’s sewer service area. 

Deerfield is near the new Eastside campus on Georgia Hwy. 142 near U.S. Hwy. 278. 

The Board has delayed action on the request twice since June. Last week, District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards sought to kill the plan. 

Discussion at the Oct. 19 meeting centered on sewer service encouraging more dense residential development in undeveloped areas than if no service was available in the same areas. 

Current county development regulations allow building lots in areas zoned for single-family construction and served by sewers to be 3,000 to 10,000 square feet smaller than in areas served only by septic tanks — meaning more homes could be built on the same amount of land.

Edwards said there was “no practical reason for” approving the plan other than to “take sewer into places that aren’t intended to go right now” because the city had no plans to expand its sewer system in the area.

Deerfield and another subdivision, Beacon Hill, also are established subdivisions and will not connect to sewer lines, he said. 

However, there also is undeveloped land along highways 142 and 278 that could be served with sewer in the affected area, Edwards said.

“What it will do is, it will enable density,” he said.

The city plans to provide sewer service to the new Eastside High School facility by building a line from its existing Eastside main sewer line — which it plans to expand — to connect to a sewer line the school system was building to serve Eastside.

A letter to commissioners from city and sewer authority officials said the new sewer line for the school will run alongside Hwy. 278. 

It was originally planned to discharge into the NCWSA’s Alcovy River lift station but the station does not have enough capacity because it already has promised it to industries in the Stanton Springs business park, the letter stated.

“Additionally, growth is expected in the Deerfield area once pubic sewer is available but with capacity already allocated by NCWSA, Covington should be the sewer service provider,” officials stated in the letter.

As part of the agreement, the city also will move undeveloped areas south and east of the new high school into its sewer service area because it also plans to expand a lift station that could serve the area. The area already is in the city’s water service area.

In return, NCWSA would receive a city of Covington water tank and the city’s current customers in the Melody Farms subdivision, the letter stated.

District 5 Commissioner Ronnie Cowan asked Chairman Marcello Banes to consider a delay to allow him and Edwards to meet with Covington and NCWSA officials to “see what the impacts might be.” 

Banes said the board already had tabled — delayed action — the request twice. He said he recommended the Board take action because the city would merely move to annex the area if the request was delayed again. 

District 3 Commissioner Alana Sanders said she wondered why future development should be discouraged in the area. 

She also said she favored residential construction going into areas of Newton County other than her district — parts of which have been heavily developed with residential neighborhoods in recent decades.

“We need to get it out of District 3 — I’m going to be honest with you,” Sanders said.

The Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 against Edwards’ motion for denial of the agreement. 

It then voted 3-2 to approve it on District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson’s motion.