Covington approves auto shop

COVINGTON - The City Council approved a special-use permit for an auto repair shop at 7161 Washington Street on Monday night, but added a long list of conditions.

Applicant Donna M. McConnell of DMS Rentals LLC owns the 5.92 acre tract, which is zoned M1, or light industrial, and is occupied by industrial warehouses.

McConnell will be leasing a 3,500-square-foot warehouse, including two garage bays, to Reggie's Automotive Repair.

The council added 10 conditions to the special-use permit, all suggested by the Covington Planning Commission, which heard the petition in October.

First, the use of the building must be limited to an auto repair and maintenance shop, and the applicant must reapply for a special-use permit in five years to "give the city the ability to see if the automotive repair and maintenance shop is operating in a manner that has no adverse impacts on surrounding properties," according to a planning department staff report.

Hours of operation are restricted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Vehicles cannot be stored at the facility for more than 30 days and must remain licensed at all times.

The conditions also prohibit automobile salvage operations; outdoor storage of vehicles, auto parts, oil and gas containers and other merchandise or materials associated with the business; outside repair or maintenance; painting and automotive body repair work; sale of automobiles; and parking along the right of way of Ga. Highway 81.

Planning Commission members received high praise from the City Council for adding the conditions.

"They did a lot of hard work on this one," Councilman John Howard said.

In other news, the council suspended a residency requirement in its newly passed alcohol ordinance.

The ordinance required that the holder of the alcohol license live in Newton County or appoint a designee that lives in the county.

However, the city has heard from at least one license holder who does not live in the county and does not feel comfortable turning over the responsibility of the license to someone else, City Manager Steve Horton said.

City Attorney Ed Crudup said the old ordinance did not have a similar requirement, and he saw no problem with removing it. Under the old ordinance, the corporation must simply be registered in Georgia and appoint a designee to hold the license. The council agreed to suspend the residency requirement and replace that section with the old requirement.

Finally, the council approved the first reading of a new water rate ordinance.

Horton said the new ordinance will lower rates for customers living outside city limits.

The final reading and approval of the ordinance is expected to come at the council's Nov. 17 meeting.

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