Letter to the Editor

First Posted: 3/14/2009

To the Editor,

The public should be very concerned when the only information we are getting about Fibrowatt comes from the company who stands to benefit by the millions to have this plant locate here. Its like a fox saying to the hens, dont worry Ill blend in just fine in your hen house. I want to hear from the farmer; why does the farmer want the fox in the hen house? How will the plant affect Surry Countys tourism, farmers, viticulture, health and the environment?
Much of the information that has come to light recently was not available 2 years ago. It was not divulged that Fibrowatt was being presented premium riverfront property zoned rural area. We were not told that the county would re-zone beautiful Rural Area zoned property that happens to be right on the Yadkin River, to Manufacturing Industrial zoning. This does not make sense when there are hundreds of acres of available land already designated MI in Surry County. We didnt know the incentive package allowed them an 80% rebate on property taxes for eight years. We still dont know how much it will cost the county to provide roads and water and sewer services out to the site. Ive seen what Fibrowatt says the benefits will be – new jobs and tax revenues but with the tax and infrastructure incentives they get from the county, how long will it take for the county to see those benefits if ever.
I was told by Fibrowatt officials at the meeting on March 11, that the contract with the county is not final, they dont have a final site plan or layout, they dont have a power purchase agreement; they dont even know the size of the boiler yet or height of the smokestack. As a Fibrowatt spokesman put it, they have some but not enough contracts with farmers for chicken litter.
A great big smokestack is not good for the countys efforts to bring in tourists. The health effects of more air pollutants in the area will increase respiratory illness. In an 18-year study involving approx. 500,000 people low-level ozone exposure was found to be lethal. These pollutants add to the smoggy haze that impacts visibility. Its already difficult to see Pilot Mountain on smoggy summer days and more air pollution will just make it worse. The Yadkin River needs protection and having industry right on its banks is a threat to it.
Id be willing to bet that the good people of Mt. Airy or Pilot Mountain would not like to have a big smokestack visible from downtown or surrounding area. And I dont want one visible from the many cultural, recreational, tourist and residential locations in Elkin and southwest Surry County either. So I ask all residents of Surry County to tell your County Commissioners to please say no to Fibrowatt and not to re-zone the beautiful riverfront property just outside of Elkin from its Rural Area designation to Manufacturing Industrial.

Anita Harrington

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