In Small Rutledge, Rivian’s Designated EV Plant was Received with Mix Feelings

State and local officials continue talks with the California-based Rivian to build a big factory on about 2,000 acres of rolling grasslands and pine forests.

But the feasible plant is the talk of the town as inhabitants receive the news with mixed feelings. Some are excited by the possibility of thousands of new employment opportunities, but most that are more than a dozen inhabitants in latter days said they worry because the plants could disturb rural life and nearby towns.

For Terry Haymore, whose family has dwelled on the same land since the 1890s, the calls from real estate investors started about two months ago. Now his phone rings several times each day.

For a long time, not much has improved in this old cotton and railroad community. Christmas garland and red ribbon drape streetlights. There is a hardware store and a restaurant, The Caboose, with its kitchen in an old red rail car.

Rutledge, an hour east of downtown Atlanta down I-20, has no traffic lights. But this town of about 800, where golf carts and tractors are common sights on its quiet two-lane streets, could soon become a national hub of electric vehicle manufacturing.

Many are mad about being kept in the dark until negotiations were reported by the press. According to AJC report on Friday

“This property has been here through four generations of my family. I would hate to see it go,” said Haymore, whose land is just outside Rutledge borders the potential Rivian plant.

Some inhabitants fear they will be compelled off their residence as traffic and new progress will erase valuable farmland. That could increase land prices and taxes, which could affect farmers’ livelihoods. The company will likely secure a bounty of tax halts.

Jan Sullivan, who was shopping Wednesday at the town farmer’s market and lives in nearby Madison, said she would like to open a bakery. Rivian’s investment would give the area an economic boost, she said.

Not so, says Dennis Beam, a farmer. He raises cattle near the site offered to Rivian, which lies north of I-20 between U.S. 278 to Old Mill Road.

“This is wonderful farmland, and this is a company that’s seemingly a green company that’s going to save the world,” Beam said in a telephone interview in early December. “Yet they’re annihilating the beautiful countryside when there are plenty of places they could go. It makes no sense.

The Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton & Walton Counties, an economic development agency, has reached multiple property owners and pleaded with them to sell land near what’s known as the East Atlanta Megasite.

Three people who dwell near the proposed factory sit explained that the government gave owners little time to assess their options and left their land either could be condemned or they could be stuck living next to a bustling factory if they said no.

Neighbours said one of such property owners is a widow who lives in a 200-year-old house. The neighbours said the development authority offered to buy her land and pay to move the historic home and relocate the woman, who declined to be interviewed.

Shella Lum
Lum Shella is an author for She mainly covers electric vehicles and renewable energy.

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