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Why we created Morgan Land, Sky & Water Preservation, Inc. and No2Rivian.org


Why we created Morgan Land, Sky & Water Preservation, Inc. and No2Rivian.org
By JoEllen Artz, President

In mid-November, 2021, while enjoying a beautiful day of shopping, gathering and gabbing at the annual Christmas Festival in our city’s park, one of our long-time neighbors approached a group of us with tears in her eyes, telling us that she had just received an unexpected and devastating visit at her home. A representative of our community’s Joint Development Authority (JDA) had just delivered incomprehensible news to her—the 200-year-old historic home that she and her late husband had purchased and renovated nearly 20 years earlier was going to be demolished so that Rivian, an unknown and still unproven EV truck company, could build a truck assembly plant on the 1,978 acres of pristine fertile farmland just beyond her property line.

When she replied she didn’t want to sell, she was told there would be a 20 million square foot factory virtually in her backyard. But not to worry, the company—brought to her by Robert Scaringe, its CEO; Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia; Pat Wilson, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development; and our local JDA—might not select this site, a finalist in its quest to earn the best financial deal in this country—2,000 acres of free land and other “economic” incentives—at the expense of the citizens of whichever site it ultimately chose.

We all felt a bit of relief until December 16, 2021, the day of infamy that dealt our farming community a blow that remains incomprehensible. Sherman and his troops destroyed our community in 1864 and now a so-called but phony “Green” company was coming to destroy it again.

A day or two later a trio of us discussed the dark cloud hovering over our area and decided we would purchase 100 yard signs to indicate our displeasure with the secretive project. We were assured by the JDA spokesperson that the owners of the land in question were as shocked as the rest of us that a company wanted to build on their farms and homesites but when faced with the millions of dollars they were offered it was an easy decision to embrace.

We have since learned that the State of Georgia, through the Department of Economic Development and the JDA, had actually been promoting the land since 2018 as an industrial megasite and, while a surprise to some, it was not a surprise to the landowners who were assisting the marketers. One of those landowners was the chairman of the JDA!

Thirty days after the announcement, an expanded group of energized and very angry residents of both counties (Morgan and Walton) and the small towns nearest the site (Madison, Rutledge & Social Circle) banded together to form Morgan Land, Sky & Water Preservation, Inc. with Morgan County the site of the majority of the targeted acreage.

While Rivian claims to be a “Green” company trying to “save the earth one-day-at-a-time”, it is also planning to build the largest factory in the USA directly in the middle of our essential groundwater recharge area, most likely resulting in permanent damage that cannot be controlled or mitigated, according to state experts.

Rivian’s website also brags about Rivian’s alliance with The Nature Conservancy in favor of “land conservation” , “biodiversity”, and “protecting what we love”. They brag about saving the “Nachusa Grasslands just a few hours away from the Rivian plant in Normal, Illinois, [that] spans 3,800 acres of prairie, woodlands and wetlands”. Yet they think nothing about destroying our 2,000 acres of pastures, farms, ponds, acquifers, and wildlife surrounded by our exquisite small towns and rural life.

All of us in this area and in the City of Rutledge depend on water from wells for our daily living, watering our animals, nurturing our gardens, and even filling our ponds. The sky will be too bright for the professors at the local university observatory to see the stars. We face the risk of choking lithium-ion battery fires and fumes and poisoning of the streams that flow from the site of the planned battery plant. The wildlife that depend on ground cover for nourishment and trees for nesting will disappear.

We beg our County Commissioners to deny the rezoning requests currently scheduled to be heard on this land. You are being asked by the JDA to rezone this land without the prerequisite environmental studies that normally precede rezoning. This project is being railroaded by the Governor, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and our local four-county Joint Development Authority.

Do not destroy the small towns, rural life, and natural environment that have been rebuilt here since General Sherman’s troops burned us down in 1864. There are other sites in Georgia begging for this factory. Rivian, go there instead.

To the public: Please join us in our fight. We need you to badger our politicians relentlessly to stop this rezoning and vote them out of office if they don’t say No2Rivian.




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