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Posted: January 7, 2010 6:10 p.m.

NC BOC opposes Social Circle drag strip

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The letter above, written in opposition to the proposed drag strip in eastern Newton County, was sent by the Newton County BOC to the Social Circle Planning Commission on Wednesday.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners have joined the fight against the proposed drag strip in Social Circle. On Tuesday, the county chairman and all five commissioners signed a letter of opposition to the strip and sent it to the Social Circle Planning Commission.

The drag strip would be located within the city limits of Social Circle, but also within Newton County in District 5, Tim Fleming’s district. Fleming and District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing both expressed concerns that the drag strip might negatively affect the Stanton Springs industrial park.

"I am highly opposed to it. Over the past month I’ve received many calls form concerned residents and constituents, not only those who live in Newton County but those in Walton County as well, asking what we can do to help," Fleming said.

The letter said companies might not want to locate their facilities or employees next to noise that could reach 140 decibels, similar to the noise of a jet taking off.

Several other concerns were raised in the letter, including the fact that the drag strip goes against Newton County’s comprehensive plan. The plan for the eastern part of the county is to have mainly large residential and agricultural lots, with development centered around the Hub Junction, the intersection of U.S. Highway 278 and Ga. Highway 11, Georgia Perimeter College and Stanton Springs.

The letter speculates that a drag strip would create mostly service-sector jobs, which are normally not appropriate for low-density areas. These future businesses would also require rezonings, which would be controversial with local residents.

Finally, many of the residents who already live in the area moved there because of the rural lifestyle, and the traffic and noise generated by a drag strip could reduce homes’ value and marketability. Fleming said the strip could also cost the county by putting a drain on public safety.

Several concerned residents from Social Circle and the surrounding area recently founded a group, the Concerned Citizens of Social Circle, to organize a resistance to fight the proposed drag strip. The group plans to be present at all future city meetings to ensure the re-zoning for the drag strip does not pass. The group meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. at the Social Circle library.

The Social Circle Planning Commission will next meet to discuss the drag strip at 6 p.m. at the Jan. 25 meeting, with the location of the meeting to be determined.

To view the BOC's letter click on the link above.

Jan. 6, 2010 story - Stop your engines
New citizen group stands up to protest Social Circle drag strip

Opponents of the proposed Social Circle drag strip met Monday night at the first meeting of the newly formed Concerned Citizens of Social Circle group to discuss their plans for defeating the drag strip.

The group, established by Social Circle resident Jenny Cole, has been formed to help the citizens of Social Circle become more informed about the decisions made by the city council and planning and zoning commission and to help give the citizens more of a voice.

"It’s important we let our city leaders know how we feel and how much we care about (the issues)," Cole said.

The drag strip was sent back to the planning and zoning committee by the city council at the December meeting. The planning and zoning commission will hear arguments for and against the site on Jan 25 and will then defer a recommendation to the city council. The final vote of the council will determine of the land, located off Highway 11 will be re-zoned commercial for the site to be built. 

Concerns at the meeting were heightened after a motorbike race called the Battle of Atlanta at Social Circle was held on private property off Highway 11 over the weekend. The race allegedly brought in several hundred spectators, as well as many riders, who proceeded to race motorbikes for eight hours.

The race brought to the forefront the concerns that already exist about the proposed drag strip: noise, crowds and dust. Donnie Clack, the man who proposed the re-zoning for the drag strip, was not associated with Saturday’s race.

Cole stated that the CCOSC’s best shot was to convince the zoning commission to give the council a recommendation that they not support the re-zoning.

"We only have 30 minutes (to speak at the meeting)," Cole said. "That’s why we have to get organized. We need to use our 30 minutes in the best way possible. That’s why we need facts, and need experts if possible."

The primary objective of this first meeting was to prepare the counter-argument against the proposed drag strip. Cole stated that what the CCOSC needed was to have a clear agenda outlined for the next planning and zoning meeting, as well as to bring in their own experts to help support their arguments.

Resident Cindy Stubbs also began formation of a committee to propose changes to the re-zoning policies in place in the city. Many residents voiced concerns that there is improper signage about potential re-zonings and hope to encourage the city to take a process similar to the one employed by Walton County.

The group hopes that the drag strip will ultimately be rejected by the city council, but if it does pass, the CCOSC plans to be heavily involved in determining what conditional uses the facility could be used for.

"We’ll have to get constraints put into place to protect our quality of life," Cole said.

Cole stated that she does not see the CCOSC disappearing after the drag strip issue is resolved.

"This is just the beginning," Cole said. "We deserve to know what is going on in our own backyards."

Approximately 40 people were present for the first meeting, and Cole hoped that as word spread of the group, more people would attend the next meeting. The group plans to meet at least once a week until the planning and zoning meeting.

The group will meet again next Monday at 7 p.m. in the Social Circle Library. For more information on the group, the group has a Web site at www.ccosc.com. On the site, citizens can also sign up for the group mailing list.

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