An open letter to the Bryan County Commissioners:
Having attended both the recent Zoning Commission meeting and board meeting regarding sand mining in Bryan County, it is obvious that you’re not listening. The people of Bryan County who value the quality of life are not opposed to sand mining. The opposition is two-fold.
1. No one has done an environmental study on the effects of sand mining in a residential area. Chairman Burnsed elaborated profusely about how sand mining has been an industry in Bryan County for over 75 years. That was fine when there were only a few people living out here. We now have thousands of people living here on acreage and in subdivisions. Bryan County officials have no idea about the effects of sand mining on the health of Bryan residents or the environment. An environmental engineer who lives downwind from the Belfast River Road sand mine asked numerous questions about relative environmental issues. She didn’t get any definitive answers. One response was that the Environmental Protection Division would monitor the situation. Don’t expect them to show up even when there is a problem (reference the largest fish kill in Georgia history on our Ogeechee). Rubber-stamping this sand mining operation just because it’s been allowed over the past 75 years is wrong. Chairman Burnsed said that no one had complained before – implying that all is fine with sand mining. Maybe that’s because they didn’t see the notices hidden under the trees. I hope you’re listening because we’re complaining now.
2. Mr. Massey can make all the money he can digging borrow pits and selling sand, but it should not be allowed in a residential area. There is no opposition against the industry itself. The opposition is in regards to where the county codes allow sand mining. The board has a Pandora’s box that needs to be closed. There are no safeguards from having a mining industry across from churches, schools, subdivisions or private homes as you all unanimously authorized without discussion at the last board meeting. One hundred trucks per day for three to five years with unknown health and environmental risks are unacceptable in a residential area. South Bryan is residential. South Bryan is no longer rural. Pease take note that sand mining in residential areas can ruin our quality of life.
According to the Bryan County website, “The southern end (Richmond Hill) is a rapidly growing coastal residential community.” The mission statement on the website reads in part: “to be responsive to the needs and concerns of the citizens, ... to conduct business ... with no favoritism to anyone.” Maybe the mission statement and website needs to be changed to read ‘The Southern end ... is a sand mining area with rapidly growing residential communities’…?
Times have changed. The quality of life for the people of Bryan County should be priority. There’s plenty of land in Bryan County for sand mines that would not exploit residents. A valid environmental impact study needs to be recognized in regards to sand mining in residential areas. The code that allows sand mining needs to be re-evaluated to preserve the quality of life in Bryan County.
Hubbard is president of the Dolphin Project. She and her husband Roy are active environmentalists.