Citizens kick up sand at P&Z meeting



Mark Engel


Have you ever thought about sand? Probably not but it was on the minds of some land owners in Greshamville in northwestern Greene County.


They showed up at the county Planning and Zoning Board meeting on March 28 to speak out against a request by Redland Sand of Watkinsville to dredge sand in the Oconee River.


Beyond your child’s sandbox, your favorite beach or the place where you often find your golf ball, sand has important uses like in making glass, paint or blasting years of grime off the side of a building.


The Department of Transportation even sets standards on the quality of sand that can be used to make the asphalt used in roads.


Redland Sand is one of a number of companies that dredge the bottom of rivers and other places and separates the sand from all the other stuff. The sand is manufactured to DOT standards and sold to companies that make asphalt for roads or concrete blocks.


The number of permits required to do this gets as messy as the stuff sucked up from the underwater river bed.


Georgia Power controls the Oconee River which flows into Lake Oconee about two miles downstream from the proposed dredging operation. There are environmental permits, usage permits, wildlife concerns and land use requirements from federal and state authorities.


Redland was seeking a Conditional Use Permit for Fisher Creek Sand to set up a base of operations on a 42-acre parcel of land along the river at 2897 C.M. Copelan Road. They plan to process the dredged materials on the property which is zoned A-1 for agricultural use.


At the March 28 meeting residents who live nearby expressed some concern about the development.


Deborah Nelson owns land next to the proposed site. “You talk about wetlands. You talk about dredging and pumping water out. You’re also pumping the chemicals that have gone into that river for, what, the last 150 years?”


Susan Toler, who lives along C.M. Copeland Road, was concerned about the truck traffic going by her home.


Attorney Michael Daniel, who represents Tip and Cathy Carroll, owners of land on the north side of the parcel, said they are concerned about wetlands and environmental issues. This week, Daniel told the Lake Oconee News that they are considering finding experts who can provide more documentation about problems that might occur.


Redland Sales Representative Paul Maynard said they follow all the rules and do not pollute the water. “We use a pump station,” he said, “where our sewage doesn’t get back into the river. We’re not going to pollute the river. We’re going to be monitored.”


Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Doran Samples said that he generally thinks the dredging operation would be a good thing for the county but both he and board member Gerald Torbert (Dist. 3) admonished the company for not submitting complete paperwork with the application.


They said the drawings did not show any dimensions, details about the number of loads in and out, the weight of trucks, number of employees and other details.


Samples said the company would have to submit the necessary information to complete the application but, in the meantime, it would be easier if the two sides would get together to discuss the matter and, hopefully, work things out.


The Board then voted unanimously to table the request until the April meeting.


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