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Local economic development officials discussed strategies Tuesday for softening the impact of air pollution rules in Floyd County.
Specifically, the chairman of the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority suggested members and local officials should meet in Atlanta with the states top environmental regulator.
I would prefer to be proactive, said Willis Potts, chairman of the authority.
If we can go see Dr. (Carol) Couch (state Environmental Protection Division director) and see what we can do to get off the list and prove were below the limit, then I think it would be well worth the drive to Atlanta.
Floyd County is one of 22 Georgia counties, plus three partial counties, that the federal government has designated as nonattainment for fine particulate matter meaning that measurements have shown the air to contain more than the allowed level of the pollutant.
Potts and other development officials are concerned that the designation and possible tighter industrial emissions rules will make it tough to recruit new industries to the county. And officials at the meeting suggested that ongoing improvements at Georgia Powers Plant Hammond and the Temple-Inland paper mill could reduce emissions enough to bring the county into attainment.
One local industry, Peach State Labs, recently called off a planned expansion because of the difficulty in meeting more stringent regulations, said Rick Sargent, the companys president.
Also just this month, the federal Environmental Protection Agency ruled to tighten the 24-hour standard for fine particulate matter, to 35 micrograms per cubic meter, from 65 micrograms per cubic meter.
Mike Pennington, economic development director of the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has notified its members about the potential impact of tightening environmental rules and asked them to share their concerns with their legislators.
He added that the chamber staff is interested in protecting the environment but thinks regulations must be based on sound science.
Also at Tuesdays meeting:
* Authority members voted to reimburse about $6,600 to Kellogg, after the company overpaid its fees in a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive agreement because of a clerical error.
* Andy Davis, attorney for the authority, reported that Legacy Marketing has prepaid its fees through the life of its PILOT incentive agreement, which is scheduled to continue through 2008. Legacy, an insurance product marketing firm, qualified for the incentives when it built a new office on Technology Parkway during 2003 and early 2004.
* Authority members and chamber staff members discussed a possible meeting with the Floyd County Airport Commission to talk about marketing of available land around the airport for new businesses. Al Hodge, the chambers president and CEO, said the 1,000 acres around the airport has traditionally been marketed only to aviation-related businesses, but some authority members suggested maybe the land should be available for general industrial recruiting.