The Covington News - - Local news -

Tues­day af­ter­noon.

The RDC’s non­bind­ing rec­om­men­da­tion of ap­proval or de­nial of the project was not known as of press time.

The Ge­or­gia Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, the state’s old­est and largest en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion, at­tended the hear­ing to op­pose ap­proval of the project on the con­tention that, among other things, some of the land ac­tu­ally be­longs to Ge­or­gia Wildlife.

In a let­ter writ­ten Mon­day to Cov­ing­ton Mayor Kim Carter and the city coun­cil, Glen Dowl­ing, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Ge­or­gia Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, briefly laid out the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s con­cerns re­gard­ing the pos­si­ble an­nex­a­tion and de­vel­op­ment of prop­erty owned by Ge­or­gia Wildlife.

The let­ter said le­gal action could be nec­es­sary to clar­ify dis­crep­an­cies in the de­vel­oper’s land plat and those of Ge­or­gia Wildlife’s.

Dowl­ing, in an in­ter­view, said Ge­or­gia Wildlife also was con­cerned about what the Hazel­brand In­dus­trial Park’s im­pacts would be on the Al­covy River wa­ter­shed, its wet­lands and air qual­ity.

In the project’s DRI in­for­ma­tion forms, it was listed as fully built out oc­cu­py­ing 2.5 mil­lion square feet of im­per­vi­ous sur­face area or 46.1 per­cent of the project’s to­tal 214 acres.

Hazel­brand In­dus­trial Park was also de­scribed as hav­ing no im­pact on wa­ter sup­ply wa­ter­sheds, wet­lands, ground­wa­ter recharge ar­eas, pro­tected river cor­ri­dors, flood­plains and other en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive re­sources.

That an in­dus­trial park of such mag­ni­tude could be ex­pected to have no im­pact on its sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment has raised the eye­brows of some in the county and prompted in­cred­u­lous re­ac­tions.

“This place is na­tion­ally known for its unique­ness,” said Dowl­ing of the area where the park would be lo­cated, which is at the in­ter­sec­tion of the Al­covy River and Cor­nish Creek.

Ge­or­gia Wildlife’s head­quar­ters are lo­cated in New­ton County, ad­ja­cent to the pro­posed in­dus­trial park. Ge­or­gia Wildlife de­cided to lo­cate its head­quar­ters by the Al­covy River be­cause of its unique ecosys­tem and the de­sire to see it pro­tected.

Dowl­ing said he sees a con­tra­dic­tion in the project’s DRI forms, which state there won’t be any need for storm wa­ter mit­i­ga­tion be­cause all storm wa­ter will be dis­charged into the Al­covy River while at the same time claim­ing there will be no im­pact on ground­wa­ter recharge or the river’s wa­ter­shed.

“We be­lieve that some­body should be able to use their prop­erty, but we all have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to our up­stream and down­stream neigh­bors,” Dowl­ing said.

Jerry Sil­vio, pres­i­dent of Sil­vio De­vel­op­ment Com­pany, a New­ton County based com­pany that is as­sist­ing the landown­ers in their an­nex­a­tion and re­zon­ing process, said the in­tent now is to pre­pare the prop­erty for its even­tual de­vel­op­ers, not to hash out ev­ery de­tail re­gard­ing the pro­tec­tion of wet­lands and storm wa­ter mit­i­ga­tion.

Sil­vio said be­cause there is no de­vel­oper in mind at this time, it didn’t make sense to go through the cost of hir­ing en­gi­neers to de­velop detailed plans on things like wet­land de­lin­eation and storm wa­ter mit­i­ga­tion.

“It’s not pro­duc­tive to spend en­gi­neer­ing money to­day for re­zon­ing be­cause of the plan of the ul­ti­mate de­vel­oper or user is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent than shown,” Sil­vio said, adding that all of the en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns raised were “ cer­tainly note­wor­thy and im­por­tant.”

He said those is­sues would be ad­dressed in detailed de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing plans sub­mit­ted to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties once a de­vel­oper is found and the ac­tual build­ing per­mit process be­gins.

“That would ad­dress all of the specifics for runoff and de­ten­tion and wa­ter qual­ity,” Sil­vio said, adding that the 2.5 mil­lion square feet of im­per­vi­ous sur­face area was the “ab­so­lute max­i­mum” that would be built in the in­dus­trial park over time.

The in­dus­trial park’s DRI ap­pli­ca­tion de­scrip­tion of no en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact on the Al­covy River is a “per­fect ideal sce­nario” Sil­vio said.

Cur­rently the goal is just to get the land an­nexed and re­zoned by the city so a de­vel­oper can be at­tracted, he said.

“This kind of de­vel­op­ment is aligned with the city and the com­mu­nity’s [de­sire] for new in­dus­try,” Sil­vio said. “As we all know, in­dus­try pays more in taxes than it costs in ser­vices.”

Ac­cord­ing to the DRI form, the in­dus­trial park is pro­jected to cost $125 mil­lion to build and would bring in $1,875,000 an­nu­ally in lo­cal tax rev­enues. Sil­vio said the park could cre­ate some­what less than 1,000 jobs.

Cov­ing­ton City Man­ager Steve Horton said the city has only so far ac­knowl­edged the landowner’s re­quest for an­nex­a­tion. What­ever rec­om­men­da­tion comes from the DRI will only serve as an “in­for­ma­tion tool” for the mayor and coun­cil he said.

“As far as any kind of con­flict be­tween the Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion and the de­vel­oper, the first time I talked with any­body was yes­ter­day,” Horton said, adding “I’m sure there will be a very lengthy pub­lic dis­cus­sion if and when things come to the mayor and coun­cil.”

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