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Vandalism, illegal dumping claimed on Rivian site
Rivian site photo
Rivian's planned site next to U.S. Hwy. 278 in Social Circle is shown in December. - photo by Tom Spigolon

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Developers of the planned future location of Rivian’s electric vehicle production facility say they have seen vandalism and illegal dumping on the site in recent weeks.

Multiple accounts of trespassing also have been seen on the 2,000-acre site known as Stanton Springs North which straddles the line between Walton and Morgan counties adjacent to Newton County’s northeastern corner, a spokesperson said.

“We have alerted local law enforcement of Morgan, Newton and Walton counties as well as the city of Social Circle about these violations,” said Ben Sheidler, spokesperson for the Joint Development Authority (JDA). 

He said the JDA has not filed a police report but has alerted local law enforcement about security issues on the site. 

“The purpose of our outreach to the local sheriffs and police chiefs was to give them a heightened awareness about the situation,” he said. 

He said vandalism has included broken windows and doors at some of the vacated homes which were purchased to make way for the planned $5 billion electric vehicle production, research and training facility. 

“We will continue to be vigilant of the site and work in partnership with law enforcement as we increase security measures to deter any senseless acts of criminal behavior,” he said. 

Sheidler said the JDA has owned and operated properties called Stanton Springs in three counties over 20 years.

“We have never experienced vandalism or trespassing to this level, and it is unacceptable,” Sheidler said. “Illegal activity will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted, if necessary.”

Gov. Brian Kemp announced in December 2021 that Rivian was planning the production facility on the site located in Social Circle and unincorporated Morgan and Walton counties on the north side of I-20. 

The state and JDA announced in March the company is receiving $1.5 billion in incentives to build in Georgia, including tax credits; state and local incentives totaling $1.28 billion; $198 million in state site and road improvements and other projects and services such as a state-sponsored training center.

JDA officials have said construction is expected to begin later this year with production starting in 2024. The plant will be designed to produce up to 400,000 vehicles a year, officials said.

The incentives agreement requires Rivian to meet a number of performance goals, including creation of 7,500 jobs paying an average starting salary of about $55,000 apiece. 

Opponents of its construction — centered mainly around the nearby town of Rutledge — organized early this year and filled JDA and state organizational committee meetings to voice their displeasure.

They also hired attorneys who sought reversal of some incentives, including the state-owned site’s tax-exempt status. 

Opponents apparently also were able to convince a Morgan County judge to delay a decision on approval of a bond issue that is among local incentives for the company to locate on the site.