As about a thousand new Plant Vogtle workers are expected to move to Burke County, residents are wondering where all of them are going to live. (WRDW-TV / Feb. 16, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012
BURKE CTY., Ga. -- The construction of Reactors 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle is expected to bring thousands of new jobs to Burke County.
Thousands of new workers are expected to move to the area to fill those jobs, but the big question is: Where will they live?
"If a thousand people showed up today, we would be hard-pressed to accommodate these people in Burke County," said Realtor Glenn Whitaker, who has been working in Burke County real estate for years.
Most workers who come for the construction projects end up in RV Parks near the plant, but those spaces are limited as well.
"There's probably 17 to 18 mobile home parks here in Burke County and all together there will probably be 700 to 800 sites for individual RVs," Whitaker said.
So some Burke County residents are taking things into their own hands -- and their own yards.
Faron Hayes built five RV spaces in his backyard.
"We heard from my friends that a lot of people were going to be coming down here. I heard this like two years ago, if you got an RV site you gonna be fine," Hayes said.
So that is exactly what he did.
His tile business wasn't going well so Hayes thought he could make some money from an RV park. He built five spaces but said it was much more difficult than he originally thought.
"If you think it's an easy thing to do to just set up a little spot for five campers, you would be badly mistaken," he said. "It cost me around $15,000 to start with. It was just one thing followed another, another and another."
And the business didn't come immediately.
"The first year it was nothing. I just sat here and waited. I kept adding money to the site because I was determined to do it," Hayes said. "Since I got myself into it, there was no way I could get out of it so instead of stopping, I just kept putting more money into it."
Hayes built the spots two years ago when many residents where anticipating the construction on Reactors 3 and 4. He is happy that the construction has finally been approved.
"That's what we planned on," Hayes said. "I think it's gonna work out and if it works out for years to come, this could be a blessing for me."
And other RV parks are preparing as well. Doug Rhodes has 25 spaces set up at Plant Vogtle Campground, and he's planning to build more.
"I'm approved by the state of Georgia for 77 spaces and we should start work on those within the next 30 days," Rhodes said.
He said he was waiting for the papers to be signed to approve the new reactors. Now that they are, he will start working on setting up all his spaces. He thinks he will be filled to capacity in the next six months.
But unlike Whitaker, Rhodes doesn't think living space will be a problem.
"I believe between the camp grounds, and there's a couple mobile home parks going up as well, I think its going to work out pretty good," he said.
Whitaker said the biggest problem will come from the lack of housing. Not everyone who comes to work at Plant Vogtle will want to live in an RV. Many will be looking for houses, and Burke County simply can't accommodate that need. He said many will end up buying houses in Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties.
But Whitaker says he has been approached by developers in the past few weeks looking to buy land for new subdivisions.
"I think new development is the next step for Burke County. There's plenty of room down here for new development," Whitaker said. "We just need somebody to invest some money down here and start building new home sites for these workers."
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