CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A hidden treasure that winds through Chatham County was nearly plundered this past weekend.
A developer tore up a part of the Historic Savannah Ogeechee Canal trail to make way for new houses off Quacco Road.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the canal winds 16.5 miles from the Savannah River to the Ogeechee River.
Connie Shreve received a phone call Friday of suspicious heavy equipment on the trail that winds along the canal.
"I am very passionate about the Savannah Ogeechee Canal,” Shreve said.
She is the treasurer for the society.
"I was very upset. I arrived to find that trees had already been ripped out, big massive trees on one whole side of our bank for around 600 feet at least,” Shreve said.
Connie begged the workers to stop on Friday, but they were on the trail again on Saturday and she was on the phone immediately.
The City of Savannah owns the entire canal. The City of Pooler issued the permit for the residential subdivision near the end of Canal Bank Road, but not the right of way, which is in the City of Savannah's jurisdiction.
The City of Savannah wrote, “The Savannah & Ogeechee (S&O) Canal right-of-way in question is owned by the City of Savannah and the City has not approved the use of the right-of-way for construction of a proposed access road and private water line to serve the subdivision. The City of Savannah also has critical infrastructure in this location (a 16" force main that serves the New Hampstead area).”
"When I arrived, the equipment was teetering on top of it,” Shreve said of the water line.
Even though dozens of healthy shady trees were uprooted, Shreve says it could have been worse, "Oh goodness! it would have been devastation."
If the development goes forward, Shreve invites new residents to enjoy the gem she and others have worked so hard to maintain and restore.
"Would love for those people to come walk the trail,” she continued, “We just want them to be aware that there are buffers in place. We want a 200 foot buffer between us and any new development."
The developer has the opportunity to petition the City of Savannah to continue with that entrance to the neighborhood.
Shreve says she’ll be there opposing it every step of the way.