Fight to preserve farm land feel begins in Bulloch County

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

(BULLOCH BAY)Some Bulloch county where some residents are fighting to keep industry out of farm land.  Mr. and Mrs. Sid and Bea Jones live on the Cypress Swamp in the community of Bulloch Bay, five miles south of the intersection with i-16 & highway 67.  Their picturesque property borders land that’s been farmed in one way or another for generations. The married couple says they found out about a project to change that farm use property to industrial use ten days ago. A Savannah firm, GA16, l-l-c, filed the request for the change in zoning, but Jones says scores of people in the community will pay a price with a precious resource: water. “We have real concerns about how the water quality is gonna be affected and even how plentiful. people thing the Florida aquifer is infinite and it’s not, you know, this industrial park if it’s fully developed will draw nearly two million gallons a day and pump it out as wastewater.” said Mrs. Jones.

The family tradition of farming is no longer the means to make a living for the Jones, but the feeling of the family’s heritage will be shattered by the proposal, not just for their family, but scores of others in Bulloch Bay according to Mrs. Jones. “For so many generations, people have planted and harvested crops of all kinds and to just plunk down a five thousand acres industrial park, in the middle of all that, just, takes no regard for the quality of life in this community.” said Mrs. Jones.

Her husband says the zoning variance request doesn’t make sense to him because Bulloch County owns and operates an industrial park that’s set up with all the infrastructure needed. “Growth is good, but it needs to be in an area that can support it. We do not have the system here in this rural area to support it. We do not have the system out here in this rural area to support that kind of industry.” Jones said, adding that there are serious environmental questions. “There are several protected species that live here that will have to be relocated if the industrial park goes in.” he added there is some redundancy in the proposal. ” There are four industrial parks already in place in this area.” Jones said.

The Zoning Administrator for Bulloch County Randy Newman, says the applicant, GA16 Bulloch, LLC is now asking for more time to present their plan to the zoning board. “The applicant has filed for a deferral, which means that he, uh, has asked the p & Z board members, for for it to be deferred until the next month’s meeting.” said Randy Newman. He adds the Bulloch County Planning and Zoning Board will meet again in August.

Newman says it’s very early in the process, in fact the application is just the first step in a lengthy process. There has been a steady stream of calls about the proposal into the zoning office according to Newman. “It has blown up the last few weeks, this, this has been probably one of the biggest, uh, items we’ve had on a zoning agenda in several years.” Newman said.

The staff review that’s including in the zoning change application says “The Bulloch County Comprehensive Plan contemplated an Interstate Gateway District at SR 67 and I-16 defining certain characteristics land uses and standards for development, including industrial development. While this application and proposed use meets some of the land use criteria, and is proximate to this character area, it is not within the area. If approved, consideration should be given to amending or updating the comprehensive plan and future development map, when appropriate.
At this time, there are no specific projects pending. Therefore, this project is could be considered to be speculative in nature, though a schematic of potential future light industrial uses has been provided. According to Section 414, (b) 1 of the zoning ordinance.

“Details of the specific proposed use(s) of the property, including but not limited to a sketch plan prepared by a licensed surveyor or engineer showing details of the specific proposed uses. Applications for speculative zoning without specific uses will not be accepted.”  The applicant’s schematic suggests potential uses and capacity. However, with no specific pending projects, it is not certain when or where the pace, scale or scope of development will occur. The staff agrees with the applicant’s agent that, if approved, the site does have good potential to become a competitive industrial mega-site for medium to large-scale firms. However, other regional comment responses have discussed the lack of information available to measure public impacts or costs.” View the entire report at the link below.

http://bullochcounty.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/GA-16-Bulloch-LLC-Rezone-AG5-to-LI-Hwy-67.pdf

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