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County to hear comments, vote on erosion rules Thursday
07252020 erosion 1
Water filled with sediment rushes from a construction site in Hall County into Lake Lanier. A rule change could allow more dirt to be disturbed at a time, which Lake Lanier advocates worry could further harm Lanier. Photo courtesy Dale Caldwell of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners is set to vote Thursday on new rules regulating erosion and sedimentation on construction sites, rules that have drawn concern from environmental groups. 

Under current county rules, only 20 acres of a construction site can be disturbed at any given time. The proposal would remove that restriction, instead deferring to state rules that allow for up to 50 acres to be disturbed at once.

Commission Chairman Richard Higgins said Monday commissioners were still discussing the proposal and were hoping to find an option that would benefit “all sides.”  

County officials have said the update will bring Hall in line with other counties’ regulations. Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, for example, do not have more restrictive rules than the state measures. Officials from Forsyth, however, have been meeting with stakeholders and considering possible changes to that county’s ordinance, according to a county spokesperson.  

Hall County Board of Commissioners 

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13 

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville 

The proposal drew concerns from local nonprofits Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and the Lake Lanier Association. 

“(The current rules are) a critical protection against runoff from large acreage sites of open exposed soil during rain events. EPD sets their standards for what is best for the state as a whole,” Jennifer Flowers, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, said at a previous public hearing on the matter. “However, many places in the state don’t have the resource that we have here, Lake Lanier.” 

Brian Rochester of Rochester and Associates, which does land surveying, project management and civil engineering, said the state already requires developers to control their erosion, and many manufacturers in Hall need larger sites.  

“We need to always make sure there’s a balance between development and environmental concerns, and this isn’t throwing things out the window and not having any of that,” he said at the July 23 hearing. 

Commissioners will hear more public comments before voting at their 6 p.m. meeting Thursday, Aug. 13.  

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