Proposed quarry hits teeth of citizen protest over site near Chattahoochee River
By David Pendered
A proposed rock quarry along the Chattahoochee River in Carroll County has run into the teeth of a fast-moving grassroots opposition that has gained the support of county governments in Carroll and Coweta counties.
The boards of commissioners in the two counties voted Aug. 4 to take action against the quarry in votes that support concerns raised by Citizens Opposed to Carroll County Rock Quarry:
- Carroll County’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to amend the county’s zoning ordinance so that quarries cannot operate in land zoned for agriculture. The measure may not halt the pending proposal, but it could stymie future efforts to develop quarries in the county.
- Coweta County’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to send a message of moral support to their colleagues in Carroll County. Coweta has absolutely no say over the future of the proposed quarry. Coweta does have an interest in environmental issues related to the quarry across the river from their county, including the wellbeing of livestock in pastures that could be alarmed by blasting at the quarry.
Area residents who oppose the quarry filled the board’s meeting space in the Carroll County Courthouse, and the overflow spilled into stairwells and onto the front lawn, Whitesburg resident Tonya Spinks said during her presentation to the commission. Spinks cited a petition she said had more than 3,000 signatures in opposition. She was the only citizen speaker, and the board voted after two brief comments from commissioners.
Carroll Chairman Michelle Morgan had done her part to ensure the quarry item would be the featured item at the Aug. 4 meeting. At the board’s work session on July 30, Morgan had juggled a few agenda items on the agenda of the upcoming meeting so that residents wouldn’t have to wait long for a public hearing on the zoning proposal. In seeking the board’s support to streamline the agenda, Morgan said:
- “If we could move those two things to the consent agenda, it would shorten the meeting for the public, to hear what they want to hear and not hear all this stuff again.”
The quarry is to be located along a bend in the river where the counties of Carroll, Coweta, Douglas and Fulton come close together along the waterfront. The elected county commissioners in Douglas and Fulton counties have not taken action regarding the proposed quarry.
This position by Douglas and Fulton counties leaves the opposition to the quarry in the hands of two counties that remain less densely developed that elsewhere in metro Atlanta. The concerns cited at the Aug. 4 commission meetings reflect their outlook.
Livestock, for instance. Beef cows and horses contributed $14.7 million to Carroll County’s economy in 2018, out of a total of $330.5 million in economic contributions by agricultural sector in 2020, according to the latest report by the University of Georgia’s Extension Service.
Coweta County Vice Chairperson Bob Blackburn voiced this concern about the quarry that’s proposed on the western shore of the Chattahoochee:
- “I’ve had a ton of calls from Roscoe [an unincorporated community]. They’re concerned with silica dust, and concerned with spooking some of the livestock with the explosions. So maybe we can send something over and voice our concerns over the quarry. They don’t want it. Roscoe, Ga. does not want it. Period.”
Human welfare and the environment were top-of-mind issues for Coweta County Commissioner Tim Lassetter
- “We don’t have any jurisdiction there. But I just ask my fellow commissioners to support an oral resolution for us to send to Coweta County, just saying we are concerned about the safety, the environment, and the welfare of citizens throughout the county, and in particular those who could be negatively impacted by this quarry in Carroll County.”
The quarry’s developer predicts the facility will affect the Chattahoochee River corridor and floodplains. According to a report on expected environmental impacts cited in the Development of Regional Impact statement filed with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs:
- The dump pile for waste material to be scraped from land above the valuable rock is to be located about 1,000 feet north of the river, according to a map provided by the developer.
- The quarry is to be located less than 1,000 feet north of Carnes Lake, according to the developer’s map.
About 50 truckloads of material each day are to be transported out of the quarry site during its peak operation. Transportation improvements will be needed, but the type of improvement has not been determined, according to the DRI.