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Rivian site’s neighbors get a chance to sound off in Social Circle
Rivian discussion
Area residents talk with Joint Development Authority members following the Authority's Dec. 28 meeting at the state's Bioscience Training Center near Social Circle. - photo by Tom Spigolon

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — The Joint Development Authority will hear from residents this week about the auto plant coming to the area.

Rivian Inc. plans to build on about 2,000 acres in Morgan and Walton counties.

Some in the community have complained they have been shut out of the process, which wasn’t announced officially until Gov. Brian Kemp welcomed the company to Georgia in a news conference Dec. 16 in Atlanta.

The meeting, announced by the four-county JDA that owns the Rivian site, will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Social Circle Middle School. That’s at 154 Alcova Drive.

Details of the project came into focus last week as Chuck Jarrell, the director of planning and development for Morgan County, filed two Development of Regional Impact statements with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Those reports are required of local governments on large-scale projects, and this plant may be one of the largest anywhere.

The DRI statement says the project will cover up to 20 million square feet of building space.

For comparison, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is 1.9 million square feet. The Takeda Pharmaceuticals plant in Stanton Springs is 1 million square feet.

Kia opened its West Point, Georgia, automotive plant in 2010 at 2.2 million square feet.

The JDA of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties is listed as the developer. Jarrell estimated $100 million in annual local tax revenues from the project and said the development is expected to affect 26 property owners who hold 43 separate parcels in the two counties.

The DRI said the regional work force is expected to be sufficient to fill the jobs Rivian will need.

The most visible infrastructure project will involve the roads.

Jarrell wrote that a traffic study is underway to determine the full scope of what’s needed, but said a new exit is being planned at Interstate 20 at Old Mill Road. That’s a little less than 3 miles east of the U.S. 278/Stanton Springs Parkway exit.

Also in the plans are improvements to the existing I-20 exit to U.S. 278, and widening of that highway, as well as construction of a frontage road connecting U.S. Hwy. 278 and Old Mill Road.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, with the initial phase completed by 2024 and full buildout by 2026.