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An effort to build an electric truck plant is getting a boost, but also seeing local opposition

A crowd of 80 people packed the room, mostly to oppose the plant.

MADISON, Ga. — The effort to build a new electric truck plant in Georgia is getting a boost. The state is taking over the property, which means local officials won’t have to sign off on the development. However, this is infuriating local opponents.

The decision to give the state control of the zoning process may mean that the plant is all but a done deal.

"We welcome Rivian to our community," Joint Development Authority chairman Jerry Silvio said in a near-whisper, at the start of a JDA meeting Tuesday. 

A crowd of 80 people had packed the room, mostly to oppose the plant.

The four-county authority had yielded to the state’s the zoning control for the sprawling Rivian site near Rutledge.

"If the state is just going to go ahead and just push through, I don’t see why they need y'all up there," said Steve Shepherd during a public comment period.

Credit: WXIA
Rivian plant opponents wore red to a hearing Feb. 22 in Madison GA

Much of the audience was clad in red to symbolize opposition to the electric truck plant, backed strongly by Gov. Brian Kemp and other state officials.

The Rivian plant would build electric trucks and SUVs on 2,000 acres of land; state officials estimate it will create 7,500 jobs.

A northeast Georgia regional commission impact study also said the plant would negatively impact groundwater, generate hazardous waste and change the character of an area that has stayed mostly rural.

RELATED: Rivian plant will hurt rural Georgia, opponents say

"This project will destroy this county. And everybody with a brain knows it. Morgan County will look like my old home of Gwinnett County in 10 years. If you want to live in Gwinnett County, go live there," Edwin Snell told the JDA Tuesday to applause. 

The JDA acknowledged that it had yielded to the state the local control over the property. The Morgan County commission chairman said it was a state decision.  

"I don’t believe, based on the time frames, there was an opportunity to fight it," said chairman Ben Riden. "I think it was one of those things, the decision was made to move forward."

"Nobody (in the government) has been talking to us at all. Nobody," said Debbie Crowe, who owns property that will overlook plant.  "Nobody seems to care about the lifestyle we’re going to lose, the safety of our water, and our kids."

During the hearing, one angry resident threw his hat at the development authority --- which no longer has any authority to manage the process that’s expected to rubber-stamp the electric truck plant.

"These people are angry. They're hurt. They're scared. And you don’t represent them," Snell said. 

The development authority listening to the public comments declined to answer any of the questions posed, or comment at all.


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