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Social Circle repeals annexation
Property now Newton County territory

COVINGTON - Social Circle has repealed its annexation of 1,150 acres of Newton County property, Mayor Jim Burgess said Friday.

An ordinance repealing the annexation was approved Thursday by the Social Circle City Council.

"It's as if the annexation never occurred; it's totally rescinded," Burgess said.

Newton County officials contacted Friday said they weren't aware of the decision and would not comment.

The decision to repeal came about after the discovery of an "improper boundary description that was brought out in pleadings with (Newton) County," Burgess said.

"A technical flaw caused us to create an unincorporated island, and we can't do that," he added.

The city annexed the property, located along the northern Interstate 20 right of way between Ga. Highway 11 and U.S. Highway 278, and rezoned it to Mixed Use Business Park in November 2006.

Shortly after, the county filed a lawsuit seeking to have the annexation and zoning declared invalid and void.

The city never collected taxes on the property due to the ongoing litigation, Burgess said.

The mayor said the city is done with the issue, unless the property owners decide to petition again.

The landowners' attorney, James Alexander, could not be reached for comment.

If they do refile, they'll have to follow new state annexation procedures requiring local governments to submit disputed annexation requests to binding arbitration before an independent panel.

The bill was authored by State Rep. Doug Holt, R-Social Circle, in reaction to the Social Circle annexation.

Previously, cities were free to ignore mediators' recommendations, which happened in the Social Circle case.

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