Ask yourself why you moved to Morgan County or any other rural area. Were you hoping to live near a 20 million square foot heavy industrial plant or hoping to live and raise your family in a close, rural community surrounded by trees and grass instead of cars and concrete?
I have lived here over 20 years. I grew up on a 200-acre cattle farm and escaped the nightmare Henry County became, due to unregulated growth, to come here and live the life I loved and raise my son the same way. I live 75 miles, one way, from work and make that drive happily so I can live my best rural life. I made a conscious and thoughtful choice on the life I wanted to live and have had no regrets. The very reasons I chose this community will be destroyed if we are plagued by heavy industrial manufacturing such as Rivian. There are plenty of industrial areas in Georgia much better suited to a development such as this. We do not need the jobs, the crime, the increase in population or property values and taxes (for some, the opposite), the pollution, contaminated drinking water, or the destruction of the way of life we value here. Our infrastructure and public safety force are not able to handle a doubling, or more, of the population. And, trust me, these necessary services will never catch up. We were not waiting for a savior to arrive and make our lives livable.
This scenario will create much the same situation I experienced in Henry County and so many other counties across the state. A tiny group of men, driven by ego and dollar signs, completely changes the dynamic with uncontrolled growth and makes choices that are not compatible with the community or its wishes. Long term residents feel compelled to move away to find what they lost, leaving the community in the hands of those who are not truly invested in it.
We are not anti-growth, anti-change, or anti-business but this venture is clearly not in our best interest. They talk of job creation and opportunities for our children, yet admit that the employees will come from outside the community. What if our children desire to become honorable farmers? Are they saying that this is a foolish choice? Are they saying that the rural way of life is passé or laughable? Why should this tiny group of men tell anyone what they should do or what is best for them? Why let those from outside our community tell us what we need?
Let’s not even get into the fact that electric energy is not truly “green”, cheap, good for the planet, or carbon free. Current technology and cost do not make this endeavor beneficial to anyone. If EV science and technology is so favorable to the environment, why are there so many negatives—thousands of acres concreted over, millions of gallons of waste water, more millions of gallons of water used in production, air pollution, light pollution, contaminated ground water and waterways, landfills for un-recyclable products and hazardous waste, potential health consequences, etc. The list is EXTENSIVE. In addition to local issues, it creates worldwide issues that are rearing their ugly head as I write this. This technology is not ready for primetime.
To make matters worse, the backroom deal brokered by our “representatives” garners Morgan County less than half of the financial rewards collected by Newton and Walton Counties, yet we sacrifice by far the most in land and lifestyle. While Rivian gets at least 10 years of tax breaks, our property taxes will go up to support a huge corporation not doing anything for us but harm. Make no mistake, this will adversely affect the town of Madison as well with many tons of hazardous waste traveling through every day on their way to the new landfill. All of these plans made in secret through the use of nondisclosure agreements.
I am proud of the stand my community has made. We are not just a momentary pushback from a small, vocal chorus—we are passionate about our community and want to see it survive intact. I pray we don’t, but in the end, we may lose this fight — but it does NOT make us or our ideas wrong, and it certainly does not make us of mediocre mind. We have been heard loud and clear and far and wide by the media, our Commissioners, the JDA, our Governor, and stock advisors! The best thing we can do for our children is to show them that there are things worth fighting for. We proudly stand for our community, its ideals and lifestyle, its people, and its precious resources.