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Rivian opponents hire attorney, turn focus to Walton planning meeting
Anti Rivian
A landowner on Old Mill Road in Rutledge displays his feelings about the planned Rivian facility. (Special | Our Communities)

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Opponents of an electric vehicle factory’s construction on a site straddling Morgan and Walton counties have hired attorneys specializing in environmental and zoning issues as they prepare for legal challenges to the planned complex.

The group, newly named Our Communities Oppose Rivian Assembly Plant, had raised more than $125,000 by Friday, Jan. 28, and hired Atlanta-based Stack & Associates P.C., to represent it. 

Chas Moore, a spokesperson for the group, said Our Communities was growing quickly and had members from all counties represented by the site’s developer, the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton, he said.

About 200 people — apparently all opposed to the facility — filled the county administration building in Madison on Tuesday, Jan. 25, to voice their opposition to the planned Rivian EV facility to the JDA.

Some at the meeting said they feared the environmental impact of Rivian on land that is mostly undeveloped, and the possibility of groundwater contamination from used lithium batteries.

Moore’s group was encouraging a similar turnout for the Feb. 3 meeting of the Walton County Planning Commission at 6 p.m. in Monroe. The Walton Planning Commission is scheduled to consider rezoning requests for 80 acres of the 2,000-acre project along Lynch and Davis Academy roads in unincorporated Social Circle.

“That’s the line in the sand,” Moore said.

The planning commission will consider the request and make a recommendation to the Walton County Board of Commissioners, which would have the final say on the rezoning.

The overall site also is located in the city of Social Circle and in unincorporated Morgan County, and their governing bodies also would need to approve rezonings.

Moore indicated one focus of the group’s legal fight could be a discrepancy in estimates of treated sewage discharges into area rivers between a Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority permit request and a Development of Regional Impact required by the state for major construction projects in Georgia. He said the group had concerns about the JDA and other government entities’ abilities to legally shield land acquisition documents from open records laws.

Moore also cited lack of public services — such as fire protection — in Morgan County that are needed to serve a plant estimated at between 16 million and 20 million square feet.

“We don’t have the resources,” he said.