Friday, July 27
, 2001

Land owner defends power plant plan; opponents keep meeting


Few issues have stirred as much public discussion as Williams Company's plan to build a 2,300-megawatt power plant on Peters Road near Union City.

Two groups of homeowners and interested residents are fighting the proposal, and owners of the property on which the plant is to be built spoke out this week for the first time, saying opponents need to be more realistic.

Safeguard South Metro, a group composed of residents of several south side counties, has formed to oppose the plant and met with Williams representative Brian Rubenstein last week for a round of discussions.

Meanwhile, the issue has sparked creation of a new group in north Fayette, representing more than 20 neighborhoods. While their opposition to the power plant has been the catalyst in forming the North Fayette Neighborhood Association, its chairman says the group plans to stay together to work on future issues as well.

A vote by the Fulton County Commission on the company's rezoning application to allow the plant has been delayed at the company's request, so that all the environmental permits can be in place before that decision is made.

An information meeting is scheduled Sept. 13 at the Fulton Service Center South on Stonewall Tell Road. Also, state Rep. Sharon Beasley-Teague has scheduled a meeting with Safeguard South Metro for Aug. 7 and asked Williams representatives to attend (see related story).

Public hearings on the rezoning application are now scheduled for Oct. 6 with the county Planning Commission and Nov. 7 with the Fulton County commission.

The company also has submitted a rezoning application with Union City. Nearly 32 acres of the site is within the city limits and officials were requesting that the property's zoning category be changed from Community Unit Plan to Light Industrial.

Hearings on that request also will be in the fall.

The owners of the property being sold to Williams Company said residents are being unrealistic about the property.

"This will certainly not be the last offer we receive for development of our property," said Ann Scharko, owner of the property. "We have had talks with other developers, all who have shared a strong interest in developing our property and all who would rezone the property.

"However," Scharko said, "Williams is the first buyer who has committed to only developing a small portion of the property and preserving the rest as green space and open space. The others will develop virtually all of the property."

Scharko said she decided to speak out after hearing opponents of the facility talk about their dreams of the property being preserved in its natural state for the rest of their lifetimes.

"Anyone who has been monitoring Atlanta's growth over the last 15 years realizes it is only a matter of time until this and other nearby property is developed," she said. "It is happening all around us, including nearby Fayette and Clayton counties, and it is going to happen here."


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