Walker County fined $10,000 environmental fine from state

Walker County fined $10,000 environmental fine from state

October 6th, 2013 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

A truck carries bags of trash away from what was formerly the Confederate Army re-enactors' camp Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, one day after the end of the Battle of Chickamauga 150th anniversary re-enactment at Mountain Cove Farms in Chickamauga, Ga.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Walker County, Ga., will pay a $10,000 fine for not having the proper environmental permits when it built a 28-space recreational vehicle park at county-owned Mountain Cove Farms Resort for the Battle of Chickamauga reenactment held there Sept. 19-22.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued a Sept. 30 order that included the $10,000 fine.

"They should be aware of the rules and regulations," said Bert Langley Jr., manager of the EPD's Cartersville, Ga.-based Mountain District Office.

The county initially planned to create an orchard on the roughly nine-acre site, Langley said, but then changed plans and put the RV park there.

"An agricultural project is exempt from many requirements," Langley said. "An RV park, however, is not."

After EPD got involved, he said, Walker County installed erosion control measures. Those included a stormwater retention pond and silt fencing to catch runoff.

"We made a mistake," County Coordinator David Ashburn said. "EPD did what they thought they needed to do. And the county respected that."

Despite the fine, he said, EPD waived a 14-day waiting period so the county could complete the RV park in time for the reenactment.

"They worked with us," he said. "So we could finish it in time for the event."

An inspector visited the site Sept. 3 in response to a complaint by Ales Campbell and the EPD made the county stop work. In 2012, Campbell ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign against county Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell.

Last year, EPD required Walker County to spend $65,000 on environmental projects as the penalty for releasing sediment into Rock Creek on March 26, 2012, from trail construction work done by a county crew.

"That was last time," Langley said. "This one, it's just not appropriate to try to do a ... project on. It's more appropriate to actually require payment."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.