South Bibb neighbors protest decision to allow ethanol rail line

UPDATE:

The Executive Director of Macon’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Jim Thomas, says they are going to appeal a judge’s ruling to allow an ethanol-transfer station to open up in south Macon. 

Two years ago, the commission rejected the Texas company's application, but last week, Judge David Mincey said there was not enough evidence to reject the plan and gave the company the go-ahead.

Tuesday, more than a dozen people gathered on the Bibb County Courthouse steps to protest Mincey's decision and support the commission appealing it.

If you turn off of Macon's Barnes Ferry Road, you will find the place Johnie Danielly calls home.

“My husband and I bought the land over 50 years ago. We built our home there thinking we could live out our golden years with a home that's already paid for,” says Danielly. 

But Danielly says she is worried that could all change if Epic Midstream opens an ethanol-transfer station just down the road from her house.

“I enjoy my home, but now, it scares me to know that I might go to sleep and not wake up the next day because the plant gone and blew up,” says Danielly. 

Danielly is one of several people from the area protesting a judge’s decision to allow the company to open there despite Macon’s Planning and Zoning Commission rejecting the application two years ago.

“Turn that into that whole area into an industrial area, but they must realize that's home for us,” says Arthur Hubbard. 

Hubbard led the protest saying he is concerned the new company could hurt homeowners both financially and physically.

“Most of the time, we're having to deal with long trains that are coming through this area blocking Liberty Church Road as well as Barnes Ferry Road,” says Hubbard. 

If the company opens up a rail spur there, Hubbard says they would be dealing with about 80 to 90 more train cars, which he says could be dangerous if someone needed to leave because of an emergency. 

“Even if they stop and they got to unload it, unhitch it, and bring it to this area over here where they're trying to put this plant at, it’s going to delay time even more,” says Hubbard. 

Hubbard says he is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure this decision gets appealed.

“Please don’t put it out there so we can live in peace,” says Danielly. 

Danielly says she is willing to join the fight.

Thomas says he could not comment on why they are appealing, but he says their attorney will file the appeal in the next 30 days. 

We reached out to the local attorney for the Epic Midstream company, but we did not hear back.

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A group of south Bibb County residents are protesting a judge's decision to allow a rail line to service an ethanol-transfer station.

Two years ago, Macon-Bibb's planning and zoning commission rejected an application by a Texas company.

The Epic Midstream company applied for a conditional-use permit to build a rail spur off Barnes Ferry Road to service the ethanol facility.

Neighbors said they were concerned about safety problems and possible oil spills.

They said a jet-fuel pipeline there ruptured 30 years ago, spilling thousands of gallons, and that spill was never properly cleaned up. 

People in the neighborhood claimed some people still suffer health problems from that previous spill.

But last week, Judge David Mincey said there wasn't enough evidence to reject the plan.

He said he respected residents' fears and concerns about the project, but that "the issue at hand needs to decided by more than fear alone...."

He wrote that the zoning board "grossly abused their privilege" by denying the permit.

He gave the Epic Midstream company the go-ahead to build the rail spur.

That south Bibb group is holding a news conference at the Bibb County courthouse at noon Tuesday.

Check back with 13WMAZ.com for updates on this story today.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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