COVINGTON — The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday rezoning nearly 70 acres of land in the area of Ga. Highway 142 and Airport Road to heavy industrial.
The move required the BOC to not only rezone the tracts of land from agricultural residential and single-family residential (R3) to heavy industrial (M2), but also to amend the future land use map from public and rural residential to industrial.
Josie Cook, a resident along City Pond Road in Oxford, told commissioners that she and the other residents in the area — including Geneva Derifield, David and Valorie Payne, Michael and Velma Traylor and Ruth Frix — decided to seek the rezoning after another large parcel of nearby land was rezoned in 2010 by the city of Covington.
“We decided it would interrupt the comfortable lifestyle we had become accustomed to before we realized that industrial property would be our neighbor,” Cook said. “We looked at how to help the county and to help ourselves. This may give us the opportunity to relocate since M2 is more expensive than R3.”
David Payne, pastor of The Church at Covington, which is adjacent to the tracts that were rezoned, told commissioners he and his wife have lived on their property on Ga. Highway 142 North for more than 25 years. Like Cook, they decided seeking a rezoning to an industrial use would be to their advantage since that’s the direction it seems the area is headed.
“Ms. Cook initiated getting us together so we have a good piece of the pie, as it were, for the county, so it would be very advantageous economically for our area if that property maybe has the potential to go together,” he said.
Payne also said the rezoning would not immediately affect the church’s property, but even if it did, the church owns land across Ga. Highway 142 where it could move if needed.
“The church is not necessarily looking to sell, but being a good neighbor we actually own 65 acres across the street,” he said. “(We) are not going to leave the neighborhood if someone were to offer to buy the church out, but (it) could put us in a more advantageous place.”
Judy Johnson, Newton County’s zoning administrator, presented the rezoning and amendment to the future land use map requests to the commissioners. She said after staff review of the proposal, they determined that the rezoning would be suitable for the surrounding area. Currently, however, the change would not be in alignment with the future land use map; however, it does comport with the Newton 2050 plan.
“Staff and planning commission’s recommendation is approval with recommended conditions,” Johnson said.
Those conditions include restrictions on the type of uses for the property. Among the uses not allowed on the property are adult bookstores, asphalt plants, nightclubs, chemical plants, a homeless shelter, privately owned landfill, paper mills or salvage operations.
Any site plan proposed for the property must be reviewed by the Planning Commission, which can add additional conditions.