Okefenokee resolution, Planning Commission, Airport, Sewer system, Road renaming moratorium @ VCC 2021-11-11

With a packed agenda, the Valdosta City Council passed eight resolutions, approved five bids or purchases, and appointed people to four boards, yet the longest discussion was after all that.

[Mayor, Howard, Gibbs, WWTP, Manager & Tooley, Suwannee Riverkeeper]
Mayor, Howard, Gibbs, WWTP, Manager & Tooley, Suwannee Riverkeeper

Perhaps the most far-reaching item was one of the briefest, presented by Mayor Scott James Matheson: 3.f. Resolution in Opposition to a proposed strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, opposing the proposed Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) strip mine or any others within ten miles of the Swamp, asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reverse its abdication of oversight, asking GA-EPD for a moratorium on all mining permits until effects are settled of the recent court overruling of 2020 Clean Water Act changes, as well as to reject the TPM permits, or at least to review those applications as thoroughly as the Army Corps would, and asking the Georgia legislature to prevent such strip mines near the Swamp or any blackwater rivers in the Suwannee River Basin.

[Movie: 3.f. Consideration of a Resolution in Opposition to a proposed strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp. (22M)]
Movie: 3.f. Consideration of a Resolution in Opposition to a proposed strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp. (22M)

Several items were contentious, including as an up to 180-day Moratorium on renaming of City of Valdosta streets, which Council Eric Howard opposed as unnecessary, and he wondered why it only was proposed after the recent renaming of Forrest Street to Barack Obama Boulevard.

[Council 4, Eric G. Howard]
Council 4, Eric G. Howard

Council Andy Gibbs asked some procedural questions. The moratorium passed with Council Howard voting against.

[Council 6, Andy Gibbs]
Council 6, Andy Gibbs

Nobody objected to 4.a. payment of emergency sewer system repairs on Patterson Street near Drexel Park, but there were questions about why a no-bid contract.

They also appointed Robert Jefferson to the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC). He was the only nominee, which was also the case for several other boards.

Only one citizen wished to be heard, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, who thanked the City for the Okefenokee resolution and half a dozen other things.

[Movie: 6. CTBH Thanks for the Okefenokee resolution and other things --John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper (112M)]
Movie: 6. CTBH Thanks for the Okefenokee resolution and other things –John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper (112M)

In the 7. City Manager’s Report, Council Sandra Tooley asked general questions.

[Council 2, Sandra Tooley]
Council 2, Sandra Tooley

City Manager Mark Barber seemed to interpret Council Tooley’s questions as about specific persons.

[City Manager Mark Barber]
City Manager Mark Barber

In 8. Council Comments, Council Howard recommended respect between Staff and Council.

Council Vivian Miller Cody praised the staff and Council.

[Council 1, Vivian Miller Cody]
Council 1, Vivian Miller Cody

Council Tim Carroll, who had made the motion to approve the Okefenokee resolution, moved to adjourn.

[Council 5, Tim Carroll]
Council 5, Tim Carroll

Below are the agenda, the LAKE videos of each agenda item, followed by a LAKE video playlist, and the resolution against the titanium strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Agenda

PDF

AMENDED AGENDA
REGULAR MEETING OF THE VALDOSTA CITY COUNCIL
5:30 PM Thursday, November 11, 2021
COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL

  1. Opening Ceremonies
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation
    3. Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag
  2. Minutes Approval
    1. Valdosta City Council – Regular Meeting – Oct 21, 2021 5:30 PM
  3. Ordinances and Resolutions
    1. Consideration of a Resolution to formally adopt the 2021 Joint Comprehensive Plan Update for Lowndes County and the Cities of Dasher, Hahira, Lake Park, Remerton, and Valdosta
    2. Consideration of a Resolution for the Georgia Municipal Association’s Certified City of Ethics Program.
    3. Consideration of a request from the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority to approve a Resolution authorizing acceptance of a contract from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to proceed with crack sealing and remarking of Runway 4/22 at the Valdosta Regional Airport.
    4. Consideration of a request from the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority to approve a Resolution authorizing acceptance of a Grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to assist Airport concessionaires in economic recovery.
    5. Consideration of a request from the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority to approve a Resolution authorizing acceptance of a Grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to assist Airports in the areas of operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitization, janitorial services, combating the spread of pathogens at the Airport, and debt service payments.
    6. Consideration of a Resolution in Opposition to a proposed strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp.
    7. Consideration of a Resolution to authorize the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding for an Opioid Settlement.
    8. Consideration of a Resolution for a Moratorium on renaming of City of Valdosta
  4. Bids, Contracts, Agreements and Expenditures
    1. Consideration of a request for payment of emergency sewer system repairs on Patterson Street near Drexel Park. This request was postponed at the October 21, 2021 Regular Meeting until the November 11, 2021 Regular Meeting.
    2. Consideration of a request to purchase equipment for the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant.
    3. Consideration of bids for the South Toombs Street Pedestrian Improvements Construction Project.
    4. Consideration of bids for the Smith Street Pedestrian Improvements Project.
    5. Consideration of bids for the North Oak Street Pedestrian Improvements Project.
  5. Boards, Commissions, Authorities, and Advisory Committees
    1. Consideration of appointments to the Central Valdosta Development Authority/ Downtown Development Authority.
    2. Consideration of an appointment to the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission.
    3. Consideration of an appointment to the Valdosta Housing Authority.
    4. Consideration of an appointment to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center & Tourism Authority.
  6. Citizens to be Heard
  7. City Manager’s Report
  8. Council Comments
  9. Adjournment

LAKE Videos

Here are the LAKE videos of each agenda item, followed by a LAKE video playlist.

Here’s a LAKE video playlist:


Okefenokee resolution, Planning Commission, Airport, Sewer system, Road renaming moratorium @ VCC 2021-11-11
Valdosta City Council Regular Session, November 11, 2021, Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),

Swamp Resolution

PDF.

RESOLUTION NO. 2021-____
RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION OF STRIP MINING IN THE OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

WHEREAS, the Okefenokee Swamp is a unique natural, cultural, and economic treasure known worldwide and is the headwaters of the St. Mary’s River and the Suwannee River; and

WHEREAS, approximately 85% of the Okefenokee Swamp is in the Suwannee River Basin and the Suwannee River and is frequented by citizens of Valdosta who value the both of these natural resources for water quality and habitat protection; and

WHEREAS, the Valdosta Mayor and Council have demonstrated their commitment toward water quality and waterway recreation and cleanliness by spending approximately $100 million on sanitary sewer system improvements and by participating in many paddles and cleanups on local rivers and creeks; and

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council have further demonstrated their commitment to water quality and waterway recreation by passing a Resolution on April 5, 2018 which supported the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail and the Alapaha River Water Trail, both organized by WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS); and

WHEREAS, Twin Pines Minerals LLC (TPM), of Birmingham, Alabama, proposes to strip mine for titanium dioxide on Trail Ridge which is within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp and they have no experience in titanium mining, and;

WHEREAS, TPM proposes to use drag lines, which is a method never used for such mines on Trail Ridge in Georgia or Florida, and TPM has not met the burden of proof in demonstrating that such a mine would not contaminate the Okefenokee Swamp or the Floridan Aquifer, or possibly even lower the water level in the Swamp or the Aquifer;

WHEREAS, lowering the water level in the Okefenokee Swamp would reduce the areas that can be reached by boat both in the Swamp and on the Suwannee River, and it would increase fire risk in and around the Swamp causing a direct health hazard to communities and citizens nearby;

WHEREAS, strip mining, which is very likely to disturb and distribute mercury previously deposited through the air from Coal Power Plants in Georgia, will cause harmful toxicity to wildlife and humans if it gets into the Swamp and the Suwannee River; and

WHEREAS, TPM is still under a Florida Consent Order for a range of infractions at Chemours mine sites in north Florida, including letting wastewater escape, not doing required water quality testing, and not doing required reporting; and

WHEREAS, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has five permit applications from TPM related to the proposed mine, for which the GA-EPD is attempting to do the kind of extensive review that the Army Corps usually does; and

WHEREAS, the current TPM permit applications are for a demonstration site, yet they own hundreds more acres they plan to mine ever-closer to the Okefenokee Swamp, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote in 2019.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Valdosta Mayor and Council:

  1. Oppose the Twin Pines Minerals LLC (TPM) strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, as well as any other strip mine permit applications within ten miles of the Swamp.
  2. Request the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reverse their decision to abandon oversight of the mine site, and to resume permit review including preparation of a full Area-Wide Environmental Impact Statement with public hearings, public comment, and independent third-party review.
  3. Request the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to implement a moratorium on all mining permits until the legal ramifications become clear of the District Court overruling of the 2020 Clean Water Act changes.
  4. Request the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to reject the TPM permit applications.
  5. Request that if the Georgia Environmental Protection Division will not reject the permits, that it should thoroughly review them to at least the same degree and extent as a thorough U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Area-Wide Environmental Impact Statement with public hearings, public comment, and independent thirdparty review.
  6. Request the Georgia legislature to pass appropriate legislation to prevent such strip mines in the future, whether near the Okefenokee Swamp or near any of the blackwater rivers in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia, including the Suwannee, Alapaha, Alapahoochee, Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, and Little Rivers.

PASSED AND ADOPTED BY THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF VALDOSTA, GEORGIA, this the ___ day of November, 2021.

CITY OF VALDOSTA, GEORGIA




Scott James Matheson
Mayor

Attest:




Teresa S. Bolden
City Clerk


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1 thought on “Okefenokee resolution, Planning Commission, Airport, Sewer system, Road renaming moratorium @ VCC 2021-11-11

  1. Pingback: Valdosta passes resolution opposing strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-11-11 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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