HANCOCK CO. — WRTV has been following the industrial growth in Hancock County for years.
The changes are making a positive economic impact on the area, but some residents and business owners are worried about how it will impact their neighborhood, their business, and their roads.
Places like "Morgan Acres" — a place where memories are made, whether a wedding, a church gathering, or family reunion — are worried about the proposed industrial buildings to the south, east and northeast. They're concerned their country feel is in jeopardy.
“Morgan Acres is historically a homestead that was built in 1840,” said Shani Williams, owner of Morgan Acres.
Nestled on the Hancock County and Marion County line, the Williams family bought the homestead in 2008.
“We began just by sharing our property with our community, with neighbors, friends, church groups things like that and pretty much found out very quickly that people love this place that Morgan Acres is a very special place and the environment is so serene people come here and they say I can't believe this is still Marion County it's so peaceful and quiet out here,” said Williams.
Williams told WRTV after a few years of hosting small events, people started booking the venue for weddings, reunions, and showers, taking advantage of their quiet farm.
But that could all change soon if more proposed industrial-type buildings are approved.
“We're talking about buildings that could be 40 to 50 feet tall so there's no way to visually block that from my property there's not enough space to be able to block the view of those. You're talking about 24/7 semi-truck traffic we're talking about oh hundred plus 200 loading docks where semis will be coming in and backing up in the beep, beep, beep you know constant sound you're talking about light pollution you're talking about massive amount of traffic up and down 30th street, and you know risk to my guests here at Morgan Acres due to that traffic that I don't think Morgan Acres shouldn't have to assume that risk,” said Williams.
Williams told me they’ve known there was a chance for these buildings on the Hancock County side of their property but now the county is petitioning to rezone the land behind them from residential to industrial.
“So we would be talking about the two main borders of Morgan Acres really taking a big hit,” said Williams.
WRTV reached out to the Marion County Councilor for District 14, La Keisha Jackson, she declined an on-camera interview at this time saying, “I have not had the opportunity to meet with constituents and collect enough information related to the re-zoning request.”
WRTV also reached out to several Hancock County Councilors and the executive director of the economic development council. WRTV has not heard back from anyone.
“Unfortunately, all of that development completely changes the atmosphere and all of us as property owners we are entitled to a peaceful enjoyment of our property we have property rights too and I think that's what Hancock County is forgetting,” said Williams.
Williams says she hopes Marion County declines the petition to rezone the land behind her property.
“I want to see Hancock County come to the table and have a discussion with Marion County and say hey we realize we're putting all of this massive development right at the county line and we are impacting your infrastructure in your roads and Marion County residents,” said Williams, “I want to see Hancock County slow down the freight train there is no reason for them to be issuing permits at the rate that they're issuing them”
WRTV also reached out to the developer proposing this new industrial park, after three business days we have not received a response.
The Williams started a petition on change.org. It has more than 1,600 signatures at this time.