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Sand mine OK'ed for Fleming area
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The Liberty County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to rezone 800 acres in the Rogers Pasture Road area for a surface sand mine expected to remain in production until 2060.
The commission approved the zoning change after receiving voluminous documentation backed by two local attorneys and by Dr. Harold Reheis, a former state EPD director who is now a consultant with Joe Tanner Associates.
Concerns included the effect of traffic on Rogers Pasture Road itself and the intersection with Highway 196.
The mine operator, Savannah Sand Co., estimates that 80-100 vehicles will use the facility six days a week. This includes trucks transporting mined material as well as vehicles of the estimated 10 employees.
Savannah Sand agreed to study Rogers Pasture Road to evaluate its ability to stand up to the truck traffic. The mine will be developed in phases and the county engineer and road superintendent will monitor the road as the mine grows.
Reheis said, "Our filings will make clear that the company will pay its share of any repairs needed on the road."
Signs and lighting are planned to improve the Highway 196-Rogers Pasture Road intersection.
The first takedown for the mine will be 50-60 acres to be cleared. Sand then will be dredged from a series of three-to-five acre ponds. State law requires that the mined area be reclaimed. This can be done by planting trees or by using the ponds created by the dredging.
"There will definitely be some very attractive ponds left when we are finished," Reheis said.
No citizens appeared at the commission meeting to object to the mine. The approval was granted subject to conditions including a transportation study, wetlands delineation, and long term public safety, landscaping and water quality monitoring as the reclamation is performed.
Former Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe, an attorney who just ended a term on the Liberty County Development Authority, noted that Savannah Sand had chosen the Liberty site, "On their own, without any inducement or benefit from any development authority," adding, "They are fully subject to taxation."
One of Ratcliffe's legal partners, Jim Smith, also attended the meeting.
The project is expected to generate about $100,000 annually in property and sales tax for Liberty County.
In other business the commissioners Tuesday turned down an attempt to locate a body piercing and tattoo shop in a retail building being constructed on Leroy Coffer Highway and Hooks Court. County ordinances do not permit such a business within 1,500 feet of property zoned residential.
On a motion by Commissioner Marion Stevens, the final plat for the Eller's Place Phase I residential development off Islands Highway was tabled.  Stevens pointed out that the signature of the county fire coordinator was missing from the documents.
Commission Chairman John McIver expressed concern about the water supply for the first lots to be offered for sale.
Melinda Schneider was confirmed as the Republican appointee to the county board of elections and registration.
Road Superintendent Clenton Wells received the thanks of the commissioners as he got their approval to lease a new motor grader for $20,800 a year for five years. The county crew maintains graders so that the taxpayers in effect save money on the leases.
The old grader had a buy-back value at the end of its lease of $90,000, but it was in such good condition that the county received a trade-in of $122,000.
The commissioners invited the public to a proclamation signing today at 10:30 a.m. in the annex boardroom. They will be declaring March 28 as USS Georgia Day in honor of the famous ship.
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