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Posted: January 13, 2010 12:30 a.m.

'Concerned' group in Social Circle mulls hiring lawyer

Last week, the Concerned Citizens of Social Circle began voicing their opinions regarding the proposed drag strip — and their voices continue to grow louder.

"The key is volume," said Cindy Stubbs. "The more we say, the more we call, the more we get together… the better we’ll be."

Stubbs and Social Circle resident Jenny Cole founded the CCoSC in late December to help organize community resistance and the bring the fight against the proposed drag strip directly to the elected officials and the petitioner.

Since the group first met on Jan. 6, Stubbs and Cole have consulted with Douglas Dillard, of Dillard & Galloway LLC in Atlanta. Dillard advised that he would take their case, but it would cost the group money they would have to raise themselves. Cole stated that it would cost the group $5,000 each month to keep Dillard on retainer, plus expenses.

Cole stated that if the CCoSC grew large enough, they would be able to raise that sum.

"I’m not playing games, and I don’t think any of you are either," Cole said.

Stubbs also stated that the group would not hesitate to hire Dillard if necessary, in order to halt the construction and preserve their home values and quality of life.

"(Dillard’s) the man for what we need, but I hope we don’t have to have that happen," Stubbs said.

Dillard has recently been involved in a zoning case in Lilburn, representing a mosque that had petitioned for a rezoning so that they could expand.

Also at the meeting on Monday, Mark Whitney from the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division came to speak on the impact the proposed site would have on local wildlife. According to Whitney, there are no rare, threatened or endangered animals or plants that live in the area of the proposed drag strip that could be affected, and that the DNR would not be able to do anything to assist the residents with halting the project.

Resident Elaine Crouch presented Whitney with information she had found online about the endangered Robust Redhorse, or Hornhead, that lived in nearby waters, but Whitney pointed out that the fish had never been native to the immediate area, and that creatures very far downstream of the site would feel negligible effects from such a site.

Stubbs and Cole, along with several other community members, have been invited to speak at the next planning and zoning work session, to be held on Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the Old City Hall building. While the meeting is open to the public, only those with invitations will be allowed to speak. Members in support and opposing the drag strip will be speaking.

Several members of the CCoSC proposed picketing outside the building, and a committee was formed to help spread the word of upcoming planning and zoning meetings by mailing out forms.

The voices from the CCoSC have not fallen on deaf ears. In a mayor’s meeting held on Social Circle on Friday, Jan. 8, mayors from all the cities in Newton County and Social Circle met to discuss key issues in their communities.

"If you want your community to get involved," Social Circle Mayor James Burgess joked to the others present, "say you’re going to build a drag strip."

Burgess did state that he and the council would take the views of the voters to heart, as well as the opinion that would be rendered by the planning and zoning committee.

He also noted several concerns that had been reported at the last CCoSC meeting, particularly in regards to signage along areas of proposed re-zoning and construction. Burgess asked the other mayors what approaches they took, and noted that they would be worth considering for Social Circle.

Some of the ideas proposed included sending letters to everyone who lived nearby the zoning or construction, and an increased Web presence to help notify residents.

The next meeting of the CCoSC will he held on Thursday, Jan. 21. The location of the meeting will be announced soon. Information about the CCoSC can be found on the group’s Web site, www.ccosc.com.

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