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Denny Dobbs named to Joint Development Authority
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Former State Representative Denny Dobbs has been appointed to serve as Newton County’s citizen representative on the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties (JDA).

Commissioner Lanier Sims, District 2, nominated Dobbs to fill the seat left open with the resignation of T. M. “Mort” Ewing. The appointment passed 5-to-0 at county Board of Commissioners’ (BOC) special called meeting Thursday night.

“We’re losing our influence on the JDA,” said District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox. “We need someone with the statue and strength of an elder statesman in our community like Mr. Dobbs.”

Dobbs, an environmental engineer and life-long resident of Newton County, served for 18 years in the Georgia House of Representatives. Most recently, he served as a member of the Solid Waste Citizens’ Committee.

Sims also nominated Maddox to serve as the elected representative to the JDA, replacing Chair Keith Ellis, who also resigned in December.

Before a vote on Maddox’s nomination was taken, the commissioner asked Attorney Megan Morgan of the Jarrard and Davis Law Firm if he would be able to vote at BOC meetings on JDA matters if he’s on the JDA board.

Morgan said she would check, and get back to the commissioners as soon as possible. Sims withdrew the nomination until they received legal clarification, but also asked that the motion be amended to limit the appointments to a one-year term.
Ellis and Ewing had submitted their resignations, effective Dec. 31, in protest of the JDA’s sale of Stanton Springs land to developer Kippy Clarke and partners for a new residential neighborhood. (See story “Ellis and Ewing resign from JDA,”

Their primary objection was the sale of the land at a price per acre significantly below its worth, as stated by the JDA’s CPA Wayne Tamplin. According to Tamplin, the land was worth $13,569.95 per acre as of Dec. 31, 2014. The sale, as agreed to, was “significantly below [that] Cost Basis,” according to a memo sent to the BOC in November.

The land sits solely in the Newton County portion of the multi-county Stanton Springs. In February, the Newton County BOC will consider a zoning petition regarding the proposed development. The county’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to deny the petition to rezone.

The appointments were added at last minute to the special called meeting agenda because commissioners felt the two new representatives needed time to prepare for the JDA’s next meeting on Jan. 26.

“I hope whoever goes to the JDA will make it clear to other members that they aren’t going to dictate to Newton County what we do in Newton County,” Douglas said.