By Patrick Yost
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners Tuesday unanimously agreed to abandon all of Stanton Road (3,000 feet) and a portion of Sewell Church Road north from the Stanton Springs development to the Georgia Department of Transportation easement on Interstate 20. The abandonment was requested by the Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Walton, Morgan, Newton and Jasper counties to open up an area of the Stanton Springs Development for further development.
According to Andrea Gray, attorney, JDA, the abandonment of Stanton Road and Sewell Church Road would create a larger area in the park not intersected with roads. “It will help usattract larger companies… with a lot of jobs,” she said at a special hearing. “We want the big fish. We want the big footprint.”
During the public hearing there several persons asked for clarification of future growth of Stanton Springs. Richard Harris, a member of Sewell Church Methodist Church, said he was “slightly anxious about what’s next, if you could speak to that.”
Shane Short, Walton County Economic Development Director, said the JDA was currently speaking to several companies but that nothing was “a done deal yet.”
Short said Walton County was “working closely” with Newton County “to grow together,” specifically regarding a 330 acres Stanton Grove tract recently purchased by Newton County. In a story first published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen by Alice Queen, the Stanton Grove property, owned by Conyers-based Sovereign Partners, was recently sold to Newton County after that county agreed to back $16.1 million in bonds for the project. Morgan County businessman Wendell McNeal is a minority partner in Sovereign Partners.
In the Rockdale Citizen story, Newton County Commissioner Stan Edwards is quoted as stating he was initially against purchasing because it would compete with future development atStanton Springs. “I no longer have that concern,” Edwards says in the story.
At Tuesday’s hearing JDA Chairman Alan Verner, a Rutledge resident, said closure of the roads had “full support of the JDA…”
At Tuesday’s meeting Morgan County Commissioner Andy Ainslie made the motion to abandon the roads which was seconded by Morgan County Commissioner Donald Harris.