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Covington council approves industrial property sale for $1.75 million
Mayor breaks tie as council votes down bond issuance for Jackson Highway housing project
Industrial land sale
A map showing features of the 34.928-acre site off Georgia Hwy. 142 is shown. - photo by Special to The News

COVINGTON, Ga. — Members of the Covington City Council unanimously approved the sale of nearly 35 acres of industrial property to Newton Investments, LLC. 

The 34.928-acre property, which is of Covington/Newton County Industrial Park located off of Georgia Hwy. 142, will be sold for $50,000 per acre, totaling approximately $1.746 million. 

Because the city and county governments jointly own the property, proceeds from the sale will be divided evenly, Mayor Steve Horton said during a Feb. 7 city council meeting.

The property is currently undeveloped. Innovative Air Technologies and Georgia Plating neighbor the southwest portion of the property. Directly north of the property is Orchard Park subdivision. Northwest is Cinelease Studios – Three-Ring. 

Plans for the property were unknown at the time of this publication. Per the city’s resolution, it would be for “industrial development purposes.”

Newton Investments is a Georgia limited liability company that was originally formed in 2002, according to the Secretary of State’s office. A spokesperson for Newton Investments LLC did not respond to The Covington News’ request for comment.

In other business, the council voted down the Covington Housing Authority’s request to approve a tax-exempt revenue bond or note financing in the amount of $23 million for The Reserve at Jackson Highway, LP. 

If approved, the monies would have been used to finance the “acquisition, construction and equipping” of a 102-unit multi-family housing development to be located at 9155 SW Jackson Highway. The city of Covington would not have been indebted or obligated to financially back the bond, if approved.

A motion to approve the request was voted down 4-3. Council members Fleeta Baggett, Don Floyd and Susie Keck opposed the motion, which led to a tie. Horton broke the tie by voting against the motion.

The request was previously tabled during a meeting held in November when some aspects of the project faced disapproval.

Developer Keith Bauer said during the November meeting that plans for The Reserve at Jackson Highway called for 72 single-family homes constructed on the property and 30 townhomes that would be available for long-term rental.

“We were told [at the time of the land sale] that they would not be rentals,” Baggett said

Bauer responded by saying that the goal would be to work toward homeownership.

“We’ve set it up to be an affordable housing project,” he said. “It’ll start off as long-term rental of single-family and townhome units. Then our exit strategy would be to sell them as low-income, affordable homes.”

While Baggett said her displeasure was due to past dealings with the Covington Housing Authority, as well as other factors like the city being overwhelmed by growth, former Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams said she believed the real issue was the stigma that comes with the term “affordable housing” or “low-income housing.”

“Sir, there’s a real stigma here in Covington with affordable housing,” she said to Bauer in November. “They see it as too many people with low incomes, too many brown and Black people coming in with low incomes. That’s basically the stigma that has come out with low-income housing. Every time you say low-income housing, the folks just frown all over the room, saying, ‘Oh lord, here they come. There’s already too many already. We don’t want any more.’ People need quality of living whether they’re Black, white, purple, green or polka dot. The stigma of the structure has caused the anti-feeling against affordable [housing]. Anytime we mention affordable, we get into a boxing match … Our concern should be providing quality of living for people who [are in] need.”