Controversial Thomas Co. dirt pit project moves forward

Controversial Thomas Co. dirt pit project moves forward
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - A controversial dirt pit project in Thomas County is moving forward, but only for one year.

Commissioners voted 4 to 3 Tuesday night for a one-year permit to allow dirt-mining off McMillan and Maddox roads.

The project started in 2016.

The Scruggs Company owns a piece of property off Maddox Road that backs up to homes on Jane's Lane.

The Scruggs company asked commissioners to approve a request to rezone part of its 60 acres.

The plan is to build a home and pond on 11 acres, that is after the company uses the property as a dirt mine, hauling up to 100 truckloads of dirt a day.

"The toughest thing that county commissioners have to do is balance the rights of the property owners and the rights of the neighborhood, but I think the commissioners did a good job last night," said County Manager Mike Stephenson.

In an application presented to the Thomas County Planning and Land Use Commission by the zoning administrator, when asked if the proposed conditional use will have an undue adverse effect upon adjacent or nearby properties, the zoning administrator answered, no.

Homeowners on Jane's Lane don't agree.

"That would have been things like a berm, not cutting the several hundred feet of trees that they cut, routing the dirt in another direction, they hadn't done any of those things," said homeowner Lonnie Kirk.

On that same application, it asks if all the reasonable steps have been taken to minimize effects of the conditional use? The application answered 'yes' but again Homeowners on Jane's Lane don't agree.

Last month commissioners asked the homeowners and Scruggs representatives to meet and sort out the issues.

In a letter sent to commissioners on Friday, Scruggs General Manager Mike Fisher stated that the two groups had, "A nice and rational conversation," and, "The only condition we could not agree on was the time to construct our pond."

The Scruggs Company wants to operate a surface mining pit for up to 4 or 5 years.

"It couldn't go more than a year because these homes represent the largest investment all of us have, we are all getting old, at some point in the very near future, we may be required to sell these places to care for ourselves in our last year. There is no question that if this is going on and someone came to look at our home, nine out of 10 buyers would turn around and leave," said Kirk.

Kirk said the project would decrease property values with a combined total decrease of $675,000 in home values, it would be an enormous loss to homeowners.

The company said in a letter that they plan to put in a berm, water truck for dust control and use a separate entrance if they do pursue the project.

Scruggs now has to present a site plan to county commissioners for review, that could take several weeks.

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