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BOC approves police precinct land purchase

CSU emergency response agreement OKed

Photo by Curt Yeomans
Clayton County commissioners unanimously approved several law enforcement-related proposals on Tuesday, including the purchase of land in Ellenwood for a future police precinct, and an emergency response, mutual-aide agreement between the county and Clayton State University.

Photo by Curt Yeomans Clayton County commissioners unanimously approved several law enforcement-related proposals on Tuesday, including the purchase of land in Ellenwood for a future police precinct, and an emergency response, mutual-aide agreement between the county and Clayton State University.

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners took steps Tuesday night toward the creation of a new police precinct in the Ellenwood area, including giving unanimous approval to the purchase of a 41.5-acre site on Anvil Block Road.

Commissioners agreed to pay $684,750 for the property –– $16,500 per acre –– to an undisclosed seller, largely with the intent of improving law enforcement in the northwest corner of the county. They declined to identify the seller, because the deal is still pending approval by the seller.

“The purpose of the acquisition would be for a police precinct and to accommodate road improvements that will be taking place in that area,” Interim County Attorney Jack Hancock told commissioners.

The land purchase was one of several law enforcement-related actions taken by the county commission at its first meeting of 2012. The board also unanimously approved the renewal of a mutual-assistance agreement between the county and Clayton State University, for emergency response help, and it agreed to the buy two used vehicles for use by the county’s police department.

The land purchase, however, will likely have the longest-lasting impact of all of the actions, because of the future plans for the property. Once the new precinct is built, the number of police department offices in the county jumps to four, including the headquarters in Jonesboro, the North Precinct in Riverdale, and the South Precinct near Lovejoy.

County officials are touting the purchase as a bargain. Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said the seller originally wanted $20,000 per acre. He added that talks were under way for “several years” to buy the land. “It has come together as a very fair deal for the county,” Bell said.

The purchase will help the county fulfill one of the law enforcement goals of its current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) approved by voters in 2008, said Bell.

“The people of Ellenwood would then have a police precinct that is closer, in their neighborhood,” the chairman said. He added that the new precinct’s reach would, at the very least, also include the Rex area.

Bell could not immediately recall, however, whether the funds to buy the land would come from SPLOST money, or funding from the Ellenwood Tax Allocation (TAD) district.

When Commissioner Michael Edmondson asked County Attorney Hancock whether the funds for the land purchase would come from SPLOST, Hancock responded: “The contract doesn’t specify where the funding comes from.”

Bell said his uncertainty about the funding stems from the fact that some of the land will be used for road-widening, and right-of-way improvements on Anvil Block Road. He said he was uncertain whether the road improvements were included in the SPLOST. If they were, then SPLOST funds would be used to buy the land, he said.

The chairman said precinct boundaries will have to be re-drawn, once the new precinct is ready to open, so it is not exactly clear what will be covered by the new precinct, other than the “Northeast Quadrant” of the county. He also said Clayton County Police Chief Greg Porter will have to determine how many officers will be at the new precinct.

Porter was not immediately available after the meeting, and police spokesperson, Lt. Tina Daniel, directed questions to Bell. Because the decision to approve the land purchase came late in the commission’s meeting, after a lengthy executive session, Porter had already left the gathering before the decision was made.

Earlier in the meeting, as commissioners headed into their executive session, Porter did explain that the county’s mutual-aid agreement with Clayton State’s Public Safety department will continue. The agreement was the other key law enforcement-related proposal approved by commissioners.

Porter said the agreement will allow Clayton County police to assist the Clayton State police in handling various emergency situations on the school’s campus in Morrow, including situations involving unknown devices and active shooters. The university’s police would, in turn, assist county police in dealing with those same situations when they happen elsewhere in the county.