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Not in our backyard in a very real way
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Dear Editor,

Effingham County residents — this is your backyard.

We should be very concerned about the possibility of an industrial park being zoned in our backyard. This area borders between Port Wentworth, Highway 21 and Goshen Road. The “owners” of the 1,000-plus acre property has decided to re-zone the property several times. The last one was to build a 3,000-home residential community, which we were not opposed to.  

Now the land owner, who is spearheading this, wants to bring in a cesspool of industrial waste among other things, including a railyard.  

Please help us to stop this threat to our children, environment and community. This will impact all of us. The initial vote was done with “minimal” notification to the community at large (we were told that they followed the legal requirements), however it is interesting that only a select few were aware of this.  

If not for someone making the billboards in our community of Goshen Hills, I think less then a dozen would have even known.  

On Feb. 14, we had an “informational meeting” and it came to light that no public information was available on this item, and the commissioner’s final vote for re-zoning was scheduled for Feb. 19. In part to those that could show up on Feb. 14, they have asked to have this rescheduled for March 18.  

With no public information available, the industrial plans are all “speculative” as they cannot state for sure what type of industrial companies could be there, however it appears to be wide open.  No one will spend any more time and money on improvements in the community until this is resolved.

That means no profits for the local hardware, building, landscaping, etc., companies, and that means loss of tax revenue. Our property values will plummet; however our taxes will rise. We will be no different than any other industrial community.  

I moved here to be in a family community, not an industrial wasteland. If the county commissioners want to re-zone, then re-zone it back to commercial/residential–mixed use. Bring in something that will benefit the entire community.

It was stated at the “informational meeting” that traffic could increase on Highway 21 with an additional 2,000-plus trucks sharing the road. With 70 percent of our residents working outside the county, imagine the damage to the highway from all those heavy trucks and the increased risk of fatality accidents waiting to happen.  

They say this will add 4,000-plus jobs. OK, let’s share the road with an additional 6,000-plus vehicles. These jobs would not have the wage base to support these individuals moving to Effingham and if they did, it would further overload our schools and county infrastructures.  

Think of the risks of the addition railroad switching yard that could go there with the diesel smoke, noise and fuel. This could affect not just our air and sky but our ground water. How many of us use community wells or private wells. Do you think that the wash from an industrial area would not affect those that live miles away? What happens when there is an industrial chemical spill or accident? Are we prepared for a tragedy as big as the sugar refinery?  This effects not just Effingham residents on the whole but anyone who drives on Highway 21, (aka: the Rincon 500), and beyond.

Commercial would bring in the jobs without the rail yard or heavy trucks. It would increase property values and sales tax from local patrons and outside counties as well. How much of your sales tax money is spent outside Effingham now?

Apparently Chatham County and specifically Port Wentworth have stated that they will not build any more industrial complexes between the I-95/Highway 21 intersection and the Effingham/Chatham county line. But Effingham County wants to build another property that will not in any way help anyone except the property owners and developers’ pockets. Each and every time it has been re-zoned, it was due to the whim of the landowner to better pad his pocket. Last time it was for residential. Now with the housing market dipping, he feels this would be a better way to make more money.

As a registered voter, and taxpayer, I am asking for the community to help in the matter. This is a much bigger issue then the liquor referendum. This will give nothing to the community.  Unfortunately, this is being billed as a “page-3” issue, in part due to the tragedy at the sugar refinery in Savannah, but mainly because of the lack of information provided.   

Would you be willing to move into a neighborhood that had chemical storage, and who knows what else? As an Effingham resident it will affect you, and your family, friends and neighbors.  

Please take this time to sign the public petition. Here is a link to a public petition we have online. This will also provide more information.

Regardless of whether you live in Effingham or not your signature makes a difference.    

This email petition needs many more signatures and comments on it if your community’s plight is to be taken seriously.

Kathy Schaudt