Newton County was in the national spotlight in 2016 as the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) learned that 165 acres of land on Highway 162 and County Line road was sold by a private land owner, Neely Family Farms, to Al Maad Al Islami, Inc., owners of a mosque in Doraville. The property was sold with the planned use of a place of worship approved by Newton County Development Services.
A five-week moratorium on permits for places of worship was enacted to allow for town hall meetings and ordinance changes. During this time, regional and national media, various civil liberties groups and concerned citizens groups focused their attention on Newton County and Newton County’s municipality leaders wrote a letter to the BOC stating they were “embarrassed” by the county’s actions. The county decided to change its ordinances to add a new zoning class for Developments of Community Impact, which requires projects of 10 acres or more to get approved by the BOC.