County buys land for new air­port fa­cil­i­ties

Land to bridge air­port, IDA prop­erty

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Rachel Oswald

The New­ton County In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Author­ity has pur­chased 13 acres of land ad­ja­cent to the Cov­ing­ton Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port for the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of air­port fa­cil­i­ties.

The 13.7 acres lo­cated on the south­east side of the air­port were pur­chased from Nis­sh­inbo Au­to­mo­tive Man­u­fac­tur­ing Inc. at the end of July.

At­tor­ney Frank Turner Jr., who han­dled the sale for the IDA, said the new acreage would con­nect the air­port with the 72 acres of land owned by the IDA south of the air­port.

Call­ing the air­port a tremen- dous amenity to the county, Turner said the air­port is unique to the east­ern metropoli­tan At­lanta area be­cause of its close prox­im­ity to In­ter­state-20 and the large amount of un­de­vel­oped land sur­round­ing it.

“There’s no other air­port with this much land around it,” Turner said. “We think it has a tremen­dous fu­ture for the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the county.”

In ad­di­tion to con­nect­ing the air­port with the 72 acres of IDA land, Turner said the sec­ond in­cen­tive to pur­chas­ing the land was that it would give the air­port a sec­ond en­try point from Ga. High­way 142.

Cur­rently the air­port can only be ac­cessed by pass­ing through the city of Ox­ford.

Turner said that a drive­way lead­ing to the Nis­sh­inbo fa­cil­i­ties on the pur­chased land would be con­verted into a pub­lic road with a small en­try road lead­ing off of it to the air­port.

The sec­ond en­try­way to the air­port will also al­low fire trucks, sta­tioned at the city of Cov­ing­ton’s fire sta­tion on Al­covy Road to re­spond to an emer­gency at the air­port all the faster said Turner.

“That was a large driver of this,” Turner said.

The 13.7 acres were pur­chased for $50,000 an acre for a to­tal price of $685,000. The land pur­chase was made with avail­able IDA funds. No city or county tax dol­lars were used in the pur­chase Turner said.

“As we move for­ward with the de­vel­op­ment, we are hop­ing to do that with the part­ner­ship of the city of Cov­ing­ton,” Turner said. “Clearly it was done with an eye to­wards help­ing the city with its de­vel­op­ment of the area.”

Cov­ing­ton Mayor Sam Ram­sey said he was ex­cited by the prospect of de­vel­op­ing the air­port fur­ther with the IDA.

“I think it’s go­ing to be the best in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment tool we’ll have in the next few years,” Ram­sey said. “I think it’s go­ing to be a real great thing for the city and the county.”

In a state­ment on the sale of the land, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Nis­sh­inbo Au­to­mo­tive Man­u­fac­tur­ing Inc., Kazuhiro Iwata said he agreed to the sale be­cause he felt that the ex­pan­sion of the air­port would be es­sen­tial to the fu­ture growth and de­vel­op­ment of Cov­ing­ton’s econ­omy.

“Nis­sh­inbo is very glad to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity as a cor­po­rate cit­i­zen,” Iwata said.

Ram­sey said that the IDA land would likely be de­vel­oped to in­clude more air­craft hangars for cor­po­rate jets.

“Th­ese cor­po­rate jets that th­ese in­dus­tries use, some of them are $20 mil­lion air­planes,” Ram­sey said. “If you can get those parked in the hangar that’s a nice in­dus­try go­ing. Air­planes have to be taxed on ad val­oreum tax.”

In ad­di­tion Ram­sey said he thought a more fully de­vel­oped air­port could aid in the Joint De­vel­op­ment Author­ity’s courtship of high-tech in­dus­tries to the Stan­ton Springs In­dus­trial Park.

“The city of Cov­ing­ton may end up buy­ing the prop­erty from the IDA we just don’t know yet,” Ram­sey said, adding that the IDA stepped in to pur­chase the 13 acres from Nis­sh­inbo be­cause they had avail­able funds at the time and the city didn’t.

Ram­sey spec­u­lated that pro­ceeds from the sale of Cov­ing­ton Cable by the city to Char­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions could be used to de­velop the air­port.

“I’m go­ing to try to get the city to set aside some money to help do that,” Ram­sey said.

Turner said the IDA is cur­rently work­ing with a con­sul­tant to de­velop a con­cep­tual site plan for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of land around the air­port.

“We’re just go­ing to have to see how the air­port de­vel­ops,” Ram­sey said. “I think we’re go­ing to see a lot of in­ter­est in peo­ple want­ing to build hangars on the south side of the air­port.”

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