BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — A new soil classification has cost Glynn County one potential new industry and could cost it others in the future, local officials were advised Monday.
"It feels like a kick in the gut," said Chuck Scragg, executive director of the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority, said about a recently enforced 2010 federal regulation.
The development authority, during its monthly meeting, said Southern Power will not be moving its solar panel operation to a proposed site in Thalmann, off Route 32, after a wetland delineation study determined soil on the property to be hydric.
Hydric soil is saturated by water resulting in anaerobic conditions found in wetlands.
Scragg says the authority will talk about the situation and regroup.
"The hydric soil classifications was put into regulation in 2010," he said. "It was not implemented in the Savannah Army Corps of Engineers region until last year. This is the first time I have ever encountered this."
Brunswick and Glynn County are in the Savannah district.
While it's not the only factor in determining wetland classifications, it is one of three major elements. Others include the presence of wetland vegetation and the amount of water at a given site.
A study of the proposed solar panel site by the engineering firm of Thomas and Hutton found the park to qualify as a wetland and is therefore undevelopable.
Charles Ezelle, an engineer for the firm, showed a map of Glynn County to the authority displaying areas where soil could be hydrolytic. It indicated that the vast majority of the county could contain hydric soil.
The extensive amount of land highlighted on the map drew audible gasps and comments from those attending the meeting, including county and city commissioners.
"It's a change in time and interpretation of regulations by the government agencies," Ezelle said. "It's a heads up. It's not a doom and gloom thing.
"Of course, going out and checking the soil very carefully will be important for future development."
Scragg called the discovery one of the biggest disappointments in his 21-year career.
"Long-term ramifications are even worse. If you look at that map, where are we going to develop?" Scragg asked. "It does severely limit what we thought were some pretty good industrial sites."
Extensive soil testing will be in order as far as future planning is concerned.
Scragg says the authority will try to remain positive.
"We will be doing soil testing," he said. "Just because there is a possibility that it is there doesn't mean the soil is hydric.
Information from: The Brunswick News, http://www.thebrunswicknews.com
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