Citing their protest to the sale of land to a residential developer at “below market” value, Keith Ellis, Chair of the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC), and county resident and former BOC District 1 Commissioner, T. M. “Mort” Ewing submitted letters of resignation from the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties.
Both men represented Newton County on the JDA, Ellis as chair of the BOC and Ewing as a citizen representative.
The men each referenced the Joint Development Authority’s (JDA) decision in November to sell Stanton Springs land to developer Kippy Clarke and partners for a new residential neighborhood. (See story “Ellis, Ewing object to JDA land sale” at http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/200209/.)
The primary objection they shared addressed the sale of the land at a price per acre that was 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.
Both Ellis and Ewing have served on the JDA for the past 3 years. Ewing also serving during his time as District 1 Commissioner. Both resignations are effective by Dec. 31, 2015.
The JDA meets monthly and each county BOC appoints their own representatives.