01 December 2015

Update on the proposed Stanton Springs development

The Piedmont Chronicles

~ est. 2010 ~

There has been much attention and concern given to the proposed development at Stanton Springs, the multi-county development at the four corners of Newton, Walton, Jasper and Morgan counties. This will be the location of Baxter's Baxalta's new mega-site in which they're going to be...it seems as if no one is really completely sure (plasma, a new drug, "Capt. Trips"), which is a cause for concern in the eyes of this publication. 

Last week on Tuesday night, the Newton Co. Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-1 to table any recommendation on a rezoning of a part of the land. There are actually two tracts involved and a developer by the name of Kippy Clarke is wanting to buy these to put in a residential development.

News was made some time before when Newton County's representatives to the Joint Development Authority ( the state-sanctioned body that has purview over Stanton Springs) voted against the folks from the other counties to deny this rezoning. It seems as if the main push is so the Bank of Madison can get some debt service, but all roads, at least in terms of approving the zoning request, go through Newton Co. at this time.

As the Chronicles mentioned earlier, this deal didn't seem to pass the smell test. Putting in a road, selling way below market value, and, since this entire residential area would be in Newton, the home county would have 100% of expenditures for fire, emergency, and other services, but would only be getting 37% of any revenues. And any proceeds gathered would be reduced by half after the JDA gets their cut.

For a more in-depth understanding of all the moving parts involved with this one, we recommend readers study up on some recent articles by the one and only MP Pat (by all accounts an awesome taxpayer advocate), at the Taxpayer's Advocacy Group (TaxDogs): 

As this publication wondered a few days back, it seemed like a bit of a flip that Newton's reps' to the JDA, Keith Ellis (Newton BOC Chair) and Mort Ewing turned against it. So I reached out to Mr. Ellis. These were his four main gripes: 

  1. Paying for the road for the development - "makes no sense." Okay, check. 
  2. Price is "way too low...even with the flood plain concerns." Yes...
  3. "Giving up that commercial could hurt us down the road." Alright. 
  4. "One person involved has been known to flip properties." Yep. That's what we heard. 
Well damn. We agree with Keith Ellis on something. How 'bout that. 

I also asked him about a narrative that's been floating around with  some folks that there will be re-compensation for Newton Co. for those service expenditures. His response: 

"There is no documentation of that as far as I'm aware of." 

The Newton Co. BOC meets tonight, Dec. 1, to address this rezoning request. Since P & Z tabled last week, the Board may also table...but that could also vote on it. That's 7PM at the Historic Courthouse.