Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rural Georgia residents fighting proposed inland port that would create jobs and congestion

Rural Georgia residents are fighting a proposed development that promoters say would bring much needed jobs to the region, but that residents say would disrupt the quiet beauty in Murray County (Wikipedia map), Dan Chapman reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "State officials want to turn a 42-acre cow pasture into a train-and-truck depot along a lovely stretch of U.S. 411 line that abuts the Cohutta Wilderness Area near the Tennessee state line" into the $24 million Appalachian Regional Port. "The proposed 'inland port' site sits across the two-lane Georgia Scenic Byway from a park with baseball fields, an old brick church and a scattering of homes. Sumac Creek skirts two sides of the tract, while Grassy Mountain, 3,700-feet tall, looms over the Fairy Valley."

Opponents of the port, one of of several proposed in Georgia, "have established a nonprofit to fight the project, hired an Atlanta attorney, enlisted environmental groups, created a Facebook page with 276 friends, convened town hall meetings and filed open records requests seeking evidence of official shenanigans in the site’s selection," Chapman writes. "Their hopes lie largely with state and federal regulatory agencies which must sign off on a variety of environmental issues. Lawsuits, though premature, haven’t been ruled out." Supporters of the port it "will bring jobs, economic activity and reduce truck traffic, albeit mostly in metro Atlanta."

Citizen groups in Georgia have been successful in derailing other projects, Chapman writes. "Citizen outrage helped kill a Texas company’s attempt to build a pipeline through eastern Georgia. Another pipeline in southwest Georgia hangs in the balance after a huge public outcry. A landfill in southeast Georgia faces heated opposition over plans to accept millions of tons of toxic coal ash. And, in Paulding County west of Atlanta, a regional airport’s effort to add airline service is stuck on the runway amid citizen opposition that has turned a couple of pro-airport commissioners out of office."

No comments: