Wednesday, July 4, 2001
S. Fulton power plant neighbors get organized
By JANET McGREGOR
Residents in Fayette and south Fulton counties have joined forces to try and convince Williams Corporation to locate a proposed Fulton Energy Center somewhere else.
Williams has announced plans to build a 1,230-megawatt capable energy center on 288 acres between Peters Road and Old Jonesboro Road. The land, all in south Fulton, abuts the Fayette County border and stretches to just below the Union City electric substation.
The land is currently zoned agricultural. Williams is in the process of requesting that the parcel be rezoned to M-2 (heavy industrial).
Representatives from the surrounding neighborhoods and homes, as well as individuals from Fayette, Coweta, Clayton and Fulton have formed an organization they have named Safeguard South Metro, to "stop the power plant from ruining a beautiful section of our counties," said Mari Jo Palidino, one of the initial organizers.
Williams representatives say the plant will be clean-running and surrounded by buffers and green space.
The neighborhood group met Monday night to continue its discussion of the proposed plant.
A town hall meeting June 23 with Williams representatives "left more questions unanswered than answered," said Palidino.
Williams officially announced plans regarding the plant in April of this year and began contacting homeowners, business leaders, religious leaders and other officials in the same month. The process to locate an appropriate site began in the fall of 2000, according to Dan Skizim, project director.
According to company documents, the site in south Fulton was chosen based on a number of factors, including its proximity to a source of natural gas, electric transmission facilities, power substation, availability of water, and the availability of a parcel of land of sufficient size for the 30- to 35-acre power plant.
Williams currently has options on a roughly U-shaped piece of property that surrounds property owned by Floyd and Mary Davis, Palidino and William Colver. The actual power plant will be just north of the Fayette County line toward the bottom left leg of the "U." Williams has designated that a portion of land, which will include an 82.37-acre tract on the opposite side of the property, will be left as green space for the community. The exact amount of land to be designated has not been determined.
Since the newly designated Safeguard South Metro group first began organizing a few months ago, the group has been growing. Currently a core group of approximately 30 representatives have formed a steering committee. Palidino said many others have volunteered to help in distributing flyers, doing research and contacting neighbors.
"We have a lengthy list of individuals who have said they would like to help in convincing our elected officials that it is not in the best interests of the community to place a plant of this nature in the middle of a residential area."
One of their first tasks was to begin collecting signatures on a petition that they plan to submit to south Fulton legislators and other officials. According to Palidino, they began collecting signatures toward the end of June and have obtained "well over 300 names without a lot of effort thus far."
Members of the group voiced a number of concerns. Ed Williams, whose property lies in both south Fulton and Fayette, said he got involved after a neighbor talked with him. He noted that when he purchased his 22 acres approximately two years ago, "I thought I had found a piece of heaven. The most noise I ever heard in the morning was the geese honking." He said that as he now understands it, his property, which includes Green Valley Lake, backs right up to the plant.
Allen Ken has lived in the Peters Road area since he was 5 years old. He said his mother has asthma and that the family is concerned about the health aspects of having a plant in the area. He said, "When I stand on my front porch, I can already see the light and a good portion of the tower on the property." He had questions regarding the lights, visibility and noise in addition to health concerns.
Homeowners from Wagon Wheel Road, Davis Road, Peters Road, Westbridge Road and other neighborhoods in Fayette County are involved with the newly formed Safeguard group. Most voiced concerns regarding air pollution and property values. One noted that while in south Fulton the area may become entirely industrial at some point, on the Fayette County side that will not happen.
Members of the core group include a teacher, one or more ministers, a real estate broker, an engineer, a CPA, a former air traffic controller, a Realtor, a retired legal secretary, a few medical professionals and others. Some members live in the nearby Christian City retirement community, some in the immediate area and others come from Peachtree City, Newnan and Riverdale. A few individuals do not live in the area, but work or have business concerns there.
Currently the group is developing strategy and is setting up a Web site to push its point of view, www.NoPowerPlant.org, which is expected to be operational within the week.
Information regarding meeting dates, zoning meetings and issues and group members' concerns about health, safety, noise and pollution will be included on the site, along with links to related sites.
Williams also has a Web site
offering information, www.FultonEnergyCenter
A main contact phone number for Safeguard South Metro was set up, 770-969-4884.
In the immediate future, the group plans to conduct community meetings and, "We are available to any group, organization, homeowners association, church group - whoever. If they will just call, we will have someone at the meeting," said Palidino.
Williams also is continuing to contact community leaders. "We are very happy and willing to talk with anyone who is interested," said Skizim. He said the company's approach is a "180-degree different approach" than the way a recent power plant approval was handled in the Heard/Coweta region. "Our goal is to educate and to make all of the facts available."
To contact members of Safeguard South Metro, call 770-964-4884. To contact Dan Skizim with Williams Energy, call 770-964-9411.