One of the great concerns of individuals and municipalities throughout the state of Georgia is the negative impact uncontrolled development can have on the environment. When developers fail to address the delicate environmental matters that their projects may affect, they often project an image of an organization that cares only for profits and not for the overall well-being of the community in which they are building.
When farmlands and woodlands become commercialized through business, residential and industrial developments, there is also the traffic infrastructures necessary to sustain them, and the environment suffers. More pollution finds its way into the water systems, flood protections are destroyed, soil quality changes and wildlife become displaced. However, developers can take steps to minimize this damage by taking seriously their obligation to protect the environment and comply with state and federal laws.
Protecting your business and the community
Whether you are a developer, a business owner or the representative of a municipality, you have a stake in the outcome of any project that threatens the health of the environment. Before beginning any phase of the project, your first step is to make sure you understand the current laws related to your industry. At least 10 federal laws prohibit actions that will adversely affect the environment, and Georgia has additional laws with which developers must comply. Then you can ask the following questions:
- What risks does my business pose to the environment, including potential water pollution, waste byproducts, logistics emissions and other harm, and how can we minimize that risk?
- How will my company deal with waste, including hazardous waste, non-hazardous waste and recyclable materials?
- How will my company react to unexpected events that allow pollutants into the air or water and create a threat to the community?
- What system will our company have in place for self-monitoring and assessing our efforts to control the negative impact the business may have on the environment?
- What permits does my business need to comply with state and federal laws for clean operations?
- Do I fully understand the environmental impact of my project and the laws governing my industry, or should I seek legal advice before I proceed?
Ideally, you and your company will discuss these and other environmental issues early in the process, long before the work begins on your project. In this way, you can remain ahead of any environmental concerns and work toward a positive outcome instead of reacting after irreparable damage has already occurred.