VSU professors write to USAF consultant about Moody Family Housing @ LCC 2013-08-27

Presented to the Lowndes County Commission yesterday by Dr. Noll; video to come. I’ve added a few links and illustrations. -jsq

2261 Hughes Ave.
Lackland AFB
TX 78236-9853 ATTN: Mr. Allan Richmond

Thursday, August 15, 2013


RE: Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI), Moody AFB, Georgia

This letter is written in response to the Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposed Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) northwest of Valdosta, Georgia, on Val Del Road (also referred to as the “Val Del parcel”).

After a careful analysis of the report, we have come to the conclusion that the current EA of the proposed site for military family housing does not address a number of potential issues commonly found in areas of karst topography. Such areas display unique geophysical conditions, including the presence of sinkholes and the potential for future sinkhole formation, as well as geohydrological conditions that need to be studied more carefully and in a larger geographical context than currently given in the EA.

Without a more thorough environmental analysis and planning of the construction phases, the danger exists that housing units will be constructed in geologically unstable areas with possible consequences for the safety of military families occupying these envisioned homes. Although the designation of “Phase I” and “Phase II” areas may have been intended to avoid certain environmental hazards, the “Phase I” area of the EA does include poorly drained soils and shallow wetlands which would presumably be impacted by immediate construction. Issues of soil moisture and runoff therefore need additional investigation as well as the extent to which these shallow wetlands are interacting with underlying aquifers occupying fissures and voids in the subsurface. In addition to issues of possible land subsidence and formation of sinkholes, the EA should state whether potential pollutants from this residential area will be delivered as runoff or directly piped into the Upper Floridan aquifer.

Please note that our program in Environmental Geosciences has for more than a decade used an area near the Withlacoochee, just one mile east-southeast of the Val Del parcel, to educate our students on matters of sinkholes and karst topography, so we are rather familiar with the general area. Consequently we must emphasize the importance of further geophysical studies with the help of such instruments as a GPR (ground penetrating radar) to address questions thus far not answered by the EA.


Dr. Donald Thieme (Geosciences, Valdosta State University)
Dr. Can Denizman (Geosciences, Valdosta State University)
Dr. Michael Noll (Geosciences, Valdosta State University)


3 thoughts on “VSU professors write to USAF consultant about Moody Family Housing @ LCC 2013-08-27

  1. Michael G. Noll

    Thanks for posting this John.

    One should note that the VDT was absent at the LCBOC meeting on August 13, when the county commissioners approved the rezoning request. This approval came after we presented our concerns and before the period given by AFCEC for public comments in regard to the Environmental Assessment (EA) expired. No mention in the VDT on August 14 about any of it, since no VDT reporter was present.

    In regard to the EA and the possibilities to submit comments, it should also be noted that the phone number listed in the public announcement was incorrect. Thus, any attempts to contact Mr. Allen Richmond, the AFCEC representative, with this published phone number were unsuccessful. We eventually received the correct phone number with the help of Moody AFB personnel. While we were able to speak once with Mr. Richmond and establish email contact, his ability (or willingness?) to communicate was limited.

    Moreover, we asked Mr. Allen Richmond on August 12 if we could see a copy of the geotechnical report that seems to form the basis for the conclusions given in the EA. Thus far this request has been unsuccessful. The same is true for our request to receive a copy of that geotechnical report from the developer, Mr. Balfour Beatty. As Mr. Kurrie, the lawyer representing the developer, informed us, his client “is not subject to the Georgia Open Records Act” since he is with a private company. However, if time is indeed of the essence for this project and if this geotechnical report answers our questions and addresses our concerns, why not share it … unless you have something to hide?

    One should also note that plans existed to visit the site for this proposed housing project with representatives from Mood AFB as well as ERDC. The first attempt was on August 14, and the second attempt would have been today (August 28). However, both times the land owner has denied Moody AFB permission to visit the site. Thus any attempts by our department to help Moody AFB in the assessment of the geotechnical/geohydrological situation have been unsuccessful.

    Lastly, while the VDT was present at yesterday’s meeting and received a copy of our comments, you would not be able to tell it from this morning’s edition. The focus is on a proposed soccer complex near Hahira. However, the proposed housing project on Val Del Road, plus the concerns we have now made public, are not even mentioned.

    The experience of the last couple of weeks has again highlighted the importance of transparency, due diligence, and communication (including reporting).

    Michael G. Noll, PhD
    Geosciences, VSU

  2. Pingback: Importance of transparency, due diligence, and communication –Michael G. Noll @ LCC 2013-08-27 | On the LAKE front

  3. Pingback: Moody Family Housing is in aquifer recharge zone @ LCC 2013-08-27 | On the LAKE front

Comments are closed.