Some Grovetown residents are calling foul over plans to turn property once zoned for a motocross track into a facility for sorting and processing construction debris.
The site, located on Parham Road at Gordon Highway, just outside the Grovetown city limits, was rezoned in March for heavy industrial use. Harlem-based Tutt Contracting Inc. plans to build a facility for processing construction waste for recycling and disposal. According to plans presented to the Columbia County Commission, the site would be used for sorting, and all materials would be shipped to recycling facilities or the Richmond County landfill.
Residents on Parham Road are concerned that the facility not only will hurt property values, but might also affect the quality of the air they breath and the water they drink.
W.D. Bryant owns 60 acres adjacent to the property. He said three spring-fed ponds receive runoff from the lot in question and from nearby railroad tracks. He fears heavy rains will wash waste into the ponds and seep into the groundwater.
“We can’t have that,” he said. “We’re all on well water out here.”
Bryant said he’s also worried about airborne particulates.
“What happens when we’re downwind?” he asked. “Where is all that sheetrock dust going to go? And I know they aren’t supposed to process it, but what about asbestos?”
Tuesday, Columbia County commissioners are scheduled to discuss approval of a letter affirming that the facility, as presented, complies with the county’s solid waste management plan.
That letter then will be sent to the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Melanie Henry, the EPD’s acting solid waste manager, said that is one of many steps before the transfer station can be approved.
She said the company’s financial security, site and facility plan and operational proposal must be approved. She said a public hearing is also required.
Responding to residential worries that the transfer station might, over time, become a municipal waste dump, she said there are procedures in place at the state level to prevent that from happening.
“If they are assigned a permit, we will do regular inspections on the site. If there is any household debris found, they will have to come into compliance.”
Henry said inspections take place once or twice a year and when complaints are filed.
Richard Hogue, a Parham Road resident, said he and many of his neighbors think Tutt Contracting has tried to slip the project past without notice. Nobody, he said, received any kind of notice that the project was being planned.
“The first time I heard about it was when it hit the newspaper,” he said. “That got me a little upset. I started screaming and I haven’t stopped yet.
“Officially, we still haven’t heard about it yet. We haven’t gotten anything in the mail and we haven’t heard from the county.”
Rezoning for the property, with the transfer station listed as the project planned for the site, took place in March after a hearing with the county’s Planning and Zoning Committee, a presentation before a county commission committee and final approval by the county commission.
Even so, at a July 24 meeting of the County Commission’s Public Works Services Committee, Commissioner Bill Morris suggested that Preston Tutt, owner of Tutt Contracting, contact officials in Grove-town as a courtesy.
Grovetown Mayor George James said he hasn’t received that call.
“I guess they don’t have to do it,” he said. “But it sure would be nice if they did.”