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Covington to revisit impact fees

COVINGTON - The Covington City Council has agreed to revisit impact fees.

After receiving a consensus from the council, Mayor Kim Carter, presiding over her first meeting Monday night, directed City Attorney Ed Crudup to delve into the matter again, following a two-year delay of discussions.

"I just think it's something that's important as we look at balancing our growth," Carter said. "I really think our community needs to look at impact fees again."

Carter said Crudup will research how the law is structured, how the fees would impact development and what fees should be charged to be fair and encourage development.

"All legalities of that need to be investigated before a proposal is brought to the council," she said.

The council had taken a wait-and-see attitude in 2005 after the local and state homebuilders associations filed suit against Newton County over its impact fee ordinance.

With that lawsuit recently resolved in favor of the county, "The road is a little bit smoother ahead," Carter said.

County commissioners had hoped all five municipalities would join in its impact fee program, but none have done so.

If the council is in support of impact fees, the city would adopt its own program, Crudup said.

"I think we determined back before this litigation was commenced by the homebuilders that the consultants work related to the county's projects would not be usable by the city, that we must adopt our own methodology and do our own research in that process," he said. "At the time, I think there may have been some reluctance on the part of the city council and the mayor to go any further because we wanted to see what the outcome of that litigation was and also because of the apparent expense of the consultants' work in developing an impact fee schedule."

Crudup said his new charge is to update and advise the council of what is required under the law in order to adopt impact fees.

"I hope the state law and regulations are blessed with more clarity than they were at the time I was looking into it. With the city, there were some areas of the regulations by the state that were unclear, at least to me," he added.

Crudup said he hopes to have an update at the council's next meeting on Feb. 4.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.