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Hancock County residents railing against proposed railroad development

The Sandersville Railroad Company says the rail will have a positive impact on Hancock County

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ga. — A railroad based in Sandersville is planning to build some new tracks in Hancock County.

To do this, they’ll need to buy some private property or get a court's permission to take it.

However, not everybody in town is on board.

“We don’t want a railroad in this neighborhood! We don’t want it,” says Elizabeth Scott.

Scott says the new rail line would pass through her backyard and she is completely opposed.

“How could you just infringe upon people’s privacy and just take it into your own hands to build a railroad on people’s property? How would you like it if someone did that to your property, your peace and tranquility of your life?” she adds.

The Sandersville Railroad Company says they notified the 18 property owners who'd be affected, distributed information to local pharmacy and hardware store, and ran ads in the local newspaper.

Yet, community members say only four households received notifying letters and the majority heard the news through the grapevine.

They added that they weren’t truly aware until they saw people surveying their land.  

“He refused to tell me what was going on, which I think that’s deplorable,” Scott says.

Kenneth Clayton has been living in the community for over 50 years. He lives right by the Sparta quarry, which he says is already a burden.

The quarry is often loud with construction and constant trucks pulling in and out.

“We already got that headache, and to bring a train project through, that’s just going to weigh a building down more,” Clayton says.

Scott says it's an issue that affects the whole neighborhood.

“Constant blasts. Blasts. Blasts. Blasts.  [They] shake up the whole neighborhood. Sounds like an earthquake.” 

The community is also concerned of the air pollution and other dangers the train may bring, and they feel that there are other routes the train can take that don’t cut through their neighborhood.

Bobby Devereux has lived in the community for over 50 years as well and says, “ I hope they change their minds and want to move the railroad to another direction.” He added, “I would appreciate If they would give us some respect by doing this.”

Brian Broderick, a spokesperson for the railroad company, says that community impact was considered in every decision and believes it will be an important project for Hancock County.

He says the project will actually help reduce noise.

The project will decrease truck traffic along the road and reassures the affected community that the railroad will do only one round trip a day.

He says they have also considered noise from the train.

“Plans are to install a 20-foot high berm that would buffer especially close to the quarry so the neighbors closest to the quarry would have buffers of berm installed that would buffer a lot of the noise away from the train.”

As for environmental concerns, Broderick says they considered this issue, too.

“First of all, we're going to follow all the environment regulations that we need to. We have environment engineers engaged. They’ll actually be at the public meeting on Thursday night.”

The project will also create 12 new jobs, averaging $90,000 per year. The Sandersville Railroad Company also estimates that it will bring over $1.5 million in annual direct economic impact to Hancock County.

A public forum will be held on Thursday night and the community is encouraged to attend.

“If there's misinformation out there we want to correct that and have an opportunity to look people face-to-face and explain what’s happening to update them on the project to allay any fears and if they have some meaningful input we really want to hear that,” says Broderick.

The forum will take place at the Hancock Youth Center from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. If you can't make it, you can still share your input to www.sandersvillerailroad.com

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