Plans for a second quarry west of Whitesburg has further fueled the concerns of some citizens, who are now focusing their attention on the county zoning ordinance that permits such uses of land.
A Facebook group created to halt a proposed quarry on Black Dirt Road has now learned that a second quarry is being proposed for a site on Springer Road, west of Whitesburg. Now the group is asking residents to contact county government leaders about changing the permitted uses on agricultural land in the county’s zoning ordinance.
An informational meeting has been scheduled for July 2 at 6 p.m. at the Historic Banning Mills Adventure and Conservation Center, 205 Horseshoe Dam Road.
The group “Citizens Opposed to Carroll County Rock Quarry” was already upset that a South Carolina developer, Green Rock, LLC, is proposing a rock quarry on approximately 360 acres for mining and shipping on Black Dirt Road near Whitesburg. This would be a $20 million investment by the company.
But the group has recently learned that Marietta-based Springer Road Quarry, LLC purchased 117.86 acres on Springer Road west of Whitesburg in December 2019. The parent company is Sandy Bay Partners, headquartered in Destin, Florida.
In both cases, the land the developers seek to use is zoned A-5, or agricultural. Under current Carroll County ordinances, quarrying is a permitted use of land that is zoned agricultural, and so there was no need for the developers to seek approval by the county in the open meetings of either the county Planning and Zoning commission, or the Board of Commissioners. Residents therefore only recently learned of the planned developments.
Whitesburg residents and the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers, an environmental organization created to protect the river, have raised concerns that the quarry would disrupt the quality of life.
A Change.org petition called “Stop the progress of a quarry in Carroll County along the banks of the Chattahoochee” was created by Tonya Goolsby Spinks, a Whitesburg resident. The petition, which relates to the Black Dirt Road project, has received 1,962 signatures as of Monday morning.
“This is an organization that stands to make $20 million off the backs of ruining the quality of life for hard-working middle-class Americans in our community,” the petition said.
Spinks told the Times-Georgian on Monday she started the petition and posted information about the Springer Road site because she does not want residents to be caught off guard if they move to the area.
“I think it’s sad because I think of my parents and other families who live here,” Spinks said. “My parents purchased property down here years and years ago. If we moved here and expected the quarry, it would be one thing. But we’re used to the peaceful life.”
She added most Whitesburg residents are using well water and the quarries would be detrimental to what they drink and use for cooking, showering, and other daily purposes.
A GoFundMe organized by Shanda Cook, another Whitesburg resident, was also created on Friday to pay for the $15,000 in legal fees for fighting the proposal. As of Monday afternoon, $1,350 had been raised.
The county’s zoning ordinance allows certain uses on agricultural land, including moving natural materials such as soybeans, corn — and rock. Permitted uses on agricultural land include the development of natural resources, including the removal of minerals and natural materials provided that no machinery used for that removal is located less than 200 feet from any property line, according to the county’s zoning ordinance.
Whitesburg Mayor Amy Williford, current District 5 Commissioner Ernest Reynolds and former District 5 Commissioner Kevin Jackson oppose the Black Dirt Road quarry proposal.
Jackson told the Times-Georgian last week he and other Whitesburg residents had not been informed of the proposal until 10 days after county officials learned about it.
Reynolds said he is working with county officials to change the zoning ordinance to remove the section of the rules that allow moving natural materials.
“I took immediate steps to discuss this with county attorneys,” Reynolds wrote on his Facebook page on June 18. “From this discussion, I found that the county cannot prevent such an operation on agriculturally-zoned property. The county’s ordinance allows for the removal of minerals and rock from such property, much the same as removing a planted crop from such property.”