A proposal for a granite quarry on 462 acres near off of Jack Maddox Bridge Road near Fincherville Road on the north side of Butts County came before the Development Authority of Butts County at their meeting on Aug. 14.
The property is currently zoned agricultural-residential (AR) and would have to be changed to heavy industrial (M3) and also require a special use permit for the quarry. No request for rezoning has yet to be received.
The Tussahaw Reserves LLC project presentation was made by Josh Sprayberry, who owns the property with his wife, purchasing it almost two years ago.
Sprayberry said they had geologists do core test samplings on the property and said they have proof of $36 million in granite gneiss at a depth of 200 feet and $80 million at 300 feet. He added that granite outcroppings are on the surface, which would make establishing the quarry much easier than at other sites.
“One of the things that makes our site truly unique is that usually most quarries will spend over $2-3 million stripping the site, which means removing the dirt and soil across the top to get to the bedrock,” Sprayberry said. “That could be anywhere from 25-75 feet of soil removed. The uniqueness of our site is that our granite outcroppings are on the surface. We will immediately start producing rock versus having the normal 1-2 year delay for removal of soil.”
Sprayberry added that the location of the granite is more than 4,000 feet from the property’s closest neighbor, and that they plan on building berms and planting trees as additional buffers.
Sprayberry said their quarry could prove to be an economic boon for Butts County, bringing in needed jobs and tax revenue.
“Studies have shown that one job at a quarry creates 4.87 additional jobs throughout the community, and typically quarry jobs are higher paying jobs,” he said. “So when we look at the ability to create over 10 jobs in Butts County, with the average salary at $50,000+, and we look at being able to create an additional 40 jobs to be able to help service the quarry as well, that’s going to create an annual wage base at the quarry alone of over $750,000, and that’s going to lead to an additional $3 million in jobs in Butts County.
“One dollar of sales from the quarry generates $3.47 million in revenue for other businesses,” Sprayberry added. “When you start to look at that impact, a quarry would be expected to have about $8-$12 million a year in annual sales, which would generate $28 to $41 million in sales to other businesses in this county. If you look at that on a scale of 20 years, our $231 million in sales volume would generate over $1 billion in revenue for this county.” (Sprayberry used a 20-year scale as the average lifespan of a quarry is 20-25 years.)
“We also have to look at the county tax base,” he continued. “It’s no secret that we’ve seen assessments go up. It’s no secret that the millage rate has gone up. When we look at the potential for a quarry, we look at the local sales tax. At only 3%, it would be roughly $250,000 to $400,000 a year.
“Property taxes would go up as well if it changed from an agricultural tract to an industrial tract. That would be an additional $30,000 to $40,000 in additional property tax.
“In addition, you would have ad valorum tax on all your equipment, which would be an additional $3-$6 million increase in the equipment tax base, which would generate another $36,000 to $70,000 a year.
“All combined, this will generate $316,000 to $511,000 in tax bases on an annual basis. If you look at that over 20 years, that’s an $8 million benefit to the county.”
Sprayberry added that unlike the development of a residential subdivision that would put the burden of additional roads, schools, and public safety on the county, a quarry is basically self-contained.
“We have all our water we pull from our site, and we have very little power requirements from the electrical companies,” he said. “So everything we do is through us and our site at no additional cost to the county government.”
Addressing the concerns of having a quarry in the area, Sprayberry said the three biggest concerns are noise, vibration and dust. When the nearest neighbor 4,000 feet away and additional buffers planned, noise should not be a problem. As for blasting vibrations and dust, he said they are estimating one or two blasts per month, with processes in place to reduce the amount of dust released.
Sprayberry said that there are less than 40 houses currently within a mile radius of the quarry site, and added that quarries have actually improved development in other areas, such as around the quarries in Stockbridge, Peachtree City and Suwanee, where residential and business developments have blossomed.
Sprayberry ended his presentation by stating that a quarry is the best option for the site, saying it is not feasible for any type of residential subdivision and would remain agricultural with relatively low property taxes each year.
If Sprayberry takes the next step in requesting a rezoning and special use permit for the quarry, the process will go first through the Butts County Zoning Commission with a public hearing, and then to the Board of Commissioners with the zoning commission’s recommendation and another public hearing before the BOC could vote for approval or denial.