The state is about to consider plans for a rock quarry that for months has caused controversy in Whitesburg.
Nearly 300 comments on the project were submitted last month by area residents, which will now be among the items considered by the state Environmental Protection Division. Many residents oppose the plan, as do some environmentalists.
Developer Green Rock, LLC is proposing to construct a rock quarry on approximately 360 acres at the intersection of Black Dirt and Hutcheson Roads. The developer estimates the value of the property to be $20 million.
Because this is a quarry, it is subject to a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) study through the state. The review process included giving parties that will be potentially affected an opportunity to comment. Before any operations can begin, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division must issue a Mining Land Use Permit to the developer.
The comment period for this proposed development ended on Sept. 30 after having been extended three times. Residents, governments and other interested parties were invited to comment to the Three Rivers Commission through the DRI process.
Most of the residents who commented on the project opposed the development, Three Rivers Regional Commission Planner Kimberly Dutton said by email.
The proposed site for the quarry is zoned agricultural, and former District 5 Commissioner Kevin Jackson said a rezoning request through the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission was not necessary at the time the plans were put forth.
Dee Perry is a member of the Citizens United for Rural Protection group, which was formed to stop the construction of the rock quarry. In an email, she said the quarry review must include documentation from Green Rock that shows that the Mining Land Use Permit is consistent with the land use of the proposed site.
Because the proposed site is agricultural, she added a mining operation is not consistent with the “quiet, agricultural and residential” part of the county bordering the Chattahoochee River and two county parks that are attended by thousands of residents.
The documents that Green Rock must provide must come from Carroll County officials, and at least one county commissioner opposes the project.
District 5 Commissioner Ernest Reynolds, who represents Whitesburg, and Whitesburg Mayor Amy Williford both opposed the project. The Coweta County Board of Commissioners and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper environmental organization have also voiced their opposition.
After hearing about the project, Reynolds presented a 60-day moratorium on rock quarries on agricultural land in July. The following month, the county Board of Commissioners updated the county’s zoning ordinance to ban mining operations on agricultural land.
A copy of a memo by the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s General Counsel Kevin Jeselnik obtained by the Times-Georgian says the rock quarry would “significantly impact” the river and its tributaries.
Established in 1994, the Riverkeeper organization’s mission is to advocate for and secure the protection of the Chattahoochee as well as its lakes, tributaries and watershed. The organization shares the concerns of Whitesburg residents from blasting on communities as well as the aquatic life, according to the memo.
“Chattahoochee Riverkeeper appreciates the Three Rivers Regional Commission’s review of this proposed quarry project as a Development of Regional Impact,” the memo said. “CRK believes there is potential for this project to significantly impact the Chattahoochee River and tributaries adjacent to and nearby the development site. As such, we request that the Commission evaluate and provide recommendations to minimize any impacts on local and neighboring communities.”