Be Aware. Learn. Voice Opinion

Do Not Have Regrets

Attend the Meetings

When the rendering plant on Highway 320 is completed, when all is said and done in full operation, will we be pleased with our new neighbor? Is this the anchor we need for future growth at that prime location? Is this the best use of that interchange? Is there a comprehensive long-term plan for this area? Are we carefully considering our children’s future, changes to our culture and the impact on the school system, the community or property values? Are we questioning why Banks County said no to such a great opportunity? Are we carefully and critically evaluating this company’s prior environmental violations, lawsuits, fines, and guilty pleas? Are we questioning why Gadsden, Alabama continues to fight against a rendering plant proposed by the same corporation that we are welcoming? I sure hope we will have no regrets.

I recently read a Facebook post regarding this issue that said, “poorly planned short-term profits equal long-term failure.” On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, I had an opportunity to visit a rendering plant in Saluda County, South Carolina. The plant there is approximately the same type/size and technology as the one planned here, although not the same owner. Saluda County seemed to take into consideration the location of their plant by nestling it down a gravel road in a remote area of large tracks of timber land. The main road to the plant had an occasional residence, however, it was mostly pine trees. The visit we made was unannounced. Commissioner Franklin and Mr. Gerald Voyles were with me when we drove up to the front of the plant and parked. Commissioner Franklin had a conversation with some employees there. Mr. Voyles and I just waited in the car with the windows down. We occasionally detected a faint musty smell that was bearable. We noticed, based on a windsock, that the wind was blowing from the front of the plant toward the back. We proceeded to drive to the rear of the plant near the anaerobic lagoons and the odor was like an uncovered septic tank, very objectionable. We concluded, based on the wind direction, that the odor was most likely from the building rather than the lagoons or holding ponds that were covered in a black material of some type.

Processing the chicken remnants, which is considered the front end of the operation, is a great concern of mine. Certainly, I am concerned about odor, noise and traffic. However, my main concern is the back end of the operation, namely the discharging of the effluent, that concern is based on this company’s environmental history. You see, this property fronts I-85 and abuts the middle fork of the Broad River. This plant will discharge approximately a million gallons a day into the Middle Fork of the river which is the Savannah River Basin. The company proposing this development is ranked as a top corporate water polluter in the United States based on an evaluation of EPA reported toxic releases into waterways.

We are asking you to please attend the community meeting on Sunday, May 2nd at 3 p.m. at the Franklin County High School Ag Center. It’s imperative we show up for the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on May 19th at 5 p.m. at the Franklin County High School Ag Center, and the Board of Commissioners hearing on June 7th at 5 p.m. at the Franklin County High School Ag Center. Attend the meetings, call your public officials, voice your opinion.

Facts matter. A $70,000,000 investment in our county does not generate a million dollars annually in property tax. This is your only opportunity to express your concerns and act against this proposal. If the Board of Commissioners approve this on June 7th, it becomes our future. On June 8th, I hope our community will not wish we had done more and reflect on this with regret.

Bobby Martin

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