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County may regulate blasting

By Justin Boron

The use of explosives for blasting may become regulated for the first time in Clayton County, where some residents say detonations have caused permanent damage to their homes.

Much of the explosive work has been done in connection with the fifth runway project at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

A proposal to create a blasting ordinance will be discussed at today's work session in response to pressure from citizens, a federal legislator, and numerous town hall meetings on the blasting concern.

County Commissioner Virginia Gray, whose district contains three rock quarries, said she has requested blasting legislation for years during the previous administration.

County Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer also has pushed for a permitting law.

Wayne Patterson, the county director of transportation and development, requested assistance from the county attorney on creating a law that would force companies to apply for a permit before using explosives that residents say rattle their walls and shift their homes' foundation.

John Oxendine, the state Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, said in a letter to Rhodenizer that state laws provide for a local blasting ordinance.

But it is unclear if it would be strong enough to change dramatically the conditions for blasting.

The ordinance may be more of a jumping point for more powerful legislation, Gray said.

Having felt tremors in her own house, she said she would like to find a way to penalize the companies responsible for the blasting.

"We need something stronger that's going to hold them accountable," Gray said.

She also suggested more stringent state guidelines for noise levels.

The county commission also will discuss the following agenda items today:

? The adoption of the Northwest Clayton Livable Centers Initiative Plan

? The approval of $999,693 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds for design , right-of-way acquisition, and construction and engineering services of the widening of Mt. Zion Road.

? The approval of $853,540 in SPLOST funds for the design, right-of-way, and construction and engineering services for sidewalks in various locations in the county.