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Small aircraft maker mulls Covington site
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A light personal aircraft manufacturer is considering a site near Covington's airport for a manufacturing plant.

The company would build a 100,000-square-foot facility to produce one-man aircraft. It would employ 80 workers initially, and up to 600 workers over the next five years.

The company is considering several communities, City Manager Steve Horton said Monday.

Shannon Davis, economic development director for the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday that the company wants to narrow its list of potential locations by midyear.

The industry submitted a request for information from the city, including a price for 72 acres next to the Covington Municipal Airport and Nisshinbo, the brake manufacturer. Horton said Tuesday that the company would probably use about 20 acres.

Horton and City Attorney Ed Crudup valued the land at $27,500 per acre, based on the city's cost to purchase the land from the Industrial Development Authority.

The council approved the valuation by a 5-1 vote Monday, with Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams opposing.

Davis said that the city is working on a master plan for land around the airport, and once that is complete, the chamber will be able to market that area as an industrial park. She said the 72-acre property has been in the state's economic development site database for about two years.

"We put forth a good proposal and hopefully that will be enough to get it," Davis said.

In other action on Monday, the city received a $443,000 state grant for replacement of water lines and to install hydrants along Geiger, Banks, Hudson, Need and Moore streets, Durden Circle and Maddox Drive. City Grant Writer Randy Conner said he expected construction to start by early July.

The city will have to pay a $110,000 match, but part of that will be in-house work done by the city as opposed to paying cash.

The council also approved first reading of an ordinance change that will allow it to order an already condemned house to be demolished if the cost to repair the house would be greater than half of the value of the house.

For instance, if a $50,000 house and lot had been condemned, a process in itself, the council could then vote to order the house to be demolished, if repairs would cost $25,000 or more.

Mayor Kim Carter said the ordinance was on the books previously but was omitted when the city adopted a new ordinance code in 2008. She said the ordinance would be a measure of last resort.

"Vampire Diaries" is planning to film in the city's South View Cemetery, near the East Street entrance off Conyers Street. The production company will provide simulated headstones and a simulated wrought-iron gate entrance, so as to avoid walking on any grave sites. The council approved the filming by a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Chris Smith opposing, because he did not want to see any filming in the cemetery.