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JDA asks to postpone Thursday Walton rezoning hearing
Rivian opponents
Morgan County resident Joellen Artz tells Joint Development Authority members about Rivian's potential negative impacts on residents near the site in January in Madison. - photo by Denise Etheridge

MONROE, Ga. — The Joint Development Authority has asked to postpone a public hearing on changing zoning for land that would be part of a car plant in southern Walton County.

The four-county JDA is on the Planning Commission agenda for Thursday night with a request to rezone 13 parcels over about 180 acres from Rural Estate District to the special zoning for the Stanton Springs Business Park.

Those properties are part of the nearly 2,000 acres where Rivian Inc. wants to build a plant to make electric vehicles. Gov. Brian Kemp announced the company’s $5 billion project Dec. 16.

But not all of the land where Rivian wants to build was under the control of the JDA, a state-sanctioned authority owned by Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties. The JDA recruited Rivian and is developing the site.

The authority’s attorney, Andrea Gray, sent this statement Monday on behalf of the JDA:

“Over the last several weeks, the public input surrounding the Rivian announcement has produced a thoughtful dialogue on how best to plan and prepare for an economic development opportunity of this size, unprecedented in both size and scope.

“This public interest has not gone unheard or unnoticed. This is a generational opportunity for our community, and we want to get it right. In response to the high volume of local input, we have charged our legal, environmental, and planning experts to thoroughly evaluate these new concerns and assess how those with merit may be addressed in our planning process.

“While we are confident this effort will result in a better outcome for all parties, this process will take time. Therefore, we have asked the Walton County Planning Commission to table all zoning matters pertaining to this project on the agenda slated for Thursday, February 3rd, 2022.

“Thank you for participation in this public process and we look forward to a thoughtful, civil dialogue in weeks ahead.”

As the public hearing has been advertised, the Planning Commission members will have to vote to accept the delay. Charna Parker, the county’s director of planning and development, said both the JDA and Stark & Associates, the attorney for opponents of the Rivian project, had asked for a delay.

Parker said that is likely to be a one-month delay, to March 3.

Areas of the plant site in Morgan County and Social Circle must go before the planning and zoning process in those respective jurisdictions as well. The next meeting of the Social Circle Planning Commission is Feb. 22 at the Social Circle Middle School Activity Center, 154 Alcova Drive.

The JDA meets again at 1 p.m. Feb. 22 in Madison. Meetings are open to the public. Gray noted that the JDA will post updates on the project to its website,

Kemp announced that California-based Rivian planned a production facility for the site fronting the north side of I-20 and straddling the line between Walton and Morgan counties.

Company officials said it could create about 7,500 jobs by 2024 for production of the company's vehicles. 

News Editor Tom Spigolon of The Covington News contributed to this report.