City OKs permit for private school
The Covington City Council approved a Special Use Permit for Alpha Omega Preparatory Academy, a private school for kindergarten through 12th grade students.
The building the school would occupy is on a 1.84 acre lot at 7188 Turner Lake Circle, currently zoned for Commercial Manufacturing. Zoning does not permit a school to open in the area. However, according to City Planner Scott Gaither, who provided information on the permit request to the council and held a public hearing, the Planning and Zoning Committee and staff recommended awarding the school the permit.
“The applicants have addressed the eight points needed for an SUP,” Gaither told the council. Those include filing a proposed plan consistent with zoning district requirements, compatibility of proposed use with land uses on surrounding properties, adequacy and compliance for safety of the building, structures and its impact on public streets and the county’s wastewater treatment, and whether or not the facility will have an adverse impact on the environment.
Owned by Phillip and Wanda Davenport, Alpha Omega Preparatory Academy was previously located at 55 Crowell Road in Covington. It opened in 2006. Originally, said Wanda Davenport, who runs the academy, the school started to serve the home school population.
Her husband taught in the Newton County School System for 21 years and currently teaches in Henry County. He said, “We’ve been at Crowell Road of 10 years. We’ve never had a fight in our school. Our teachers try to help our kids – we try to help our students academically and try to make sure our kids are going to be successful her and in the world. Our vision is to produce students who are life-long learners.”
He said the building on Turner Lake Circle was laid out like a school with 10 classrooms and a small outdoor area for children. It has the capacity to serve 200 students, though the Davenports didn’t expect to have that many enrollments.
However, Wanda told the council they do hope to grow in size, and that the lot next to them may be available later on for development.
The school, she said, received a traditional accreditation through the Georgia Accrediting Commission.
Answering questions about the impact of the nearby homeless shelter on the school, the Davenports responded by saying they didn’t think it would be a problem.
“The building is very secure,” Phillip said.
Following the public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve the SUP. LIGHTS TO REMAIN ON THE SQUARE
The council tabled a discussion on proposals for the realignment project for the City Pond Road and Old City Pond Road.
Originally planning to table a discussion of permanent removal of the traffic lights on the Square, Mayor Ronnie Johnston, after a quick consultation with City Manager Leigh Anne Knight, asked the council to not table the resolution, but to make a motion to “vote on removal based on the fact the attorneys will have until September to research any additional problems.”
Johnston said the lights wouldn’t be removed until September. When Council Member Ocie Franklin, Post 3 West, asked why they couldn’t wait to vote in September, Johnston said the removal would need to be scheduled in advance of September.
According to Assistant City Manager Billy Bouchillon, “We wanted to get council’s approval so we could get contractor bids. We want to see how school traffic functions without the lights.”
The request to turn off the lights at the intersections of Floyd and Pace streets and Washington and Monticello streets was made in April and went in to effect on May 2. A previous request to turn off the lights in June was postponed.
Johnston said if attorneys find something wrong, the council can vote again later not to remove the lights. The council voted 4 to 1 to approve the resolution. The council also: Approved a contract for acquisition of right-ofways on the sidewalks where the Emory Street Pedestrian Bridge will begin and end. The cost for the right-of-way is $75,000 but Knight said it wouldn’t cost city. The motion passed unanimously. Approved a contract with Aqua Terra of Oxford for $215,884 to improve drainage on Dried Indian Creek on Pace Street south of Emory. According to Knight, silt, vegetation and trash have plugged up the drains that prevent flooding of land lying between Pace and Emory Street. The counil voted unanimously to approve the contract. Approved a road closure for July 9 between 6. and 7:30 a.m. for the installation of an HVAC unit at Lendmark Bank on Usher Street. CLEAN UP DAY A SUCCESS
All council members expressed their appreciation of the volunteers who turned out for the Covington Cares clean-up. Woven into many of their comments was support for the city’s staff, including the police department.
Knight began by expressing appreciation for the city’s public safety staff. “This is a troubling time and [we need to be] wrapping them in prayer each and every day so they can go home to their families each and every night.”
“I was so happy to see the turn out,” said Council Member Ocie Franklin, Post 3 West. “It was very successful.
“I just pray and hope that we stay as we are,” she said. “Our prayers and heart goes out to the police and to the young men’s families. I don’t know the situation. I thank God for our police department. They are our protectors.”
During council comments, members shared the opinion that the Covington Cares clean up on July 16 had been a success.
Council Member Kenneth Morgan said the clean up was excellent. “Thanks for putting forth all the effort. One thing that I would really like for all of us to realize is we are all citizens of Covington. It doesn’t matter whether you’re from the west or east. At the end of the day, it’s about Covington Cares.”
Council Member Hawnethia Williams, Post 2 West, said, “It behooves us to be concerned about all of our departments. The fire and police departments are in harm’s way, but all departments [need support] because people sometimes become scapegoats.
“We know all of our staff are visible in the community,” she said. “We’d like a special prayer for all our city workers. We’re a special city. We are the type of people who will weather the storms that come here. God bless Covington, Georgia.”
Johnston expressed his appreciation for the volunteers and staff who turned out last Saturday for the Covington Cares clean up in the Stone Mountain neighborhood. “The fact that some of these people are struggling and we gave them some hope — it’s a big deal. It’s about saying we care, we give a damn. We’re defining what the soul of the city is.”
Volunteers joing Covington City Council members and staff at a Covington Cares clean-up on July 16 in the Stone Mountain neighborhood off of Emory Street.