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Ellis, Ewing object to JDA land sale
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The Joint Development Authority voted to sell land in Stanton Springs to developer Kippy Clarke and partners for a new residential neighborhood Monday, but the authority’s two Newton County delegates were not in favor of the deal.

The land in question sits solely in the Newton County portion of the multi-county Stanton Springs, and Keith Ellis and Mort Ewing shared several issues they had in the project.

The first of their issues, laid out in a letter to the Joint Development Authority Chair Alan Verner, is that “selling the land without an appraisal would appear to the public as irresponsible.”

Aside from a potential appraisal, the cost basis of the land established by accountant Wayne Tamplin was $13,569.65 per acre.

“The net for the JDA falls significantly below that cost basis,” Ellis and Ewing wrote.

Along with the perceived reduction in cost of the land is the fact that part of the land is owned by Technology Park Atlanta. Ellis and Ewing said the TPA will get a 7 percent commission on this deal, and that it is “excessive.”

Another point of contention for the Newton delegates was the JDA paying $75,000 for parkway land acquisition and $1,000,000 on the parkway.

“Residential developments have not been incentivized in the past,” Ellis and Ewing wrote. “Putting in infrastructure, such as roads and utilities would be unprecedented. Local government authorities should be consistent with past transactions”
The money of the sale would go toward the JDA’s debt with the Bank of Madison, a debt Ellis and Ewing said could be repaid in other ways.

“We have $200,000 of timber money in hand and approximately another $100,000 for a 2016 timber sale,” they wrote.“The Bank of Madison has agreed for the JDA to pay interest only in December 2015. We think we should explore all options available to the JDA before we agree to sell our land for $7,705 per acre less than our cost.”