Landfill opponents seek restraining order
by Neil B. McGahee
May 30, 2013 | 2069 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JESSICA LOEDING/The Daily Tribune News
Tracy Barton holds a sign outside the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center Wednesday morning in protest of a proposed landfill on Hodges Mine Road.
JESSICA LOEDING/The Daily Tribune News Tracy Barton holds a sign outside the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center Wednesday morning in protest of a proposed landfill on Hodges Mine Road.
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Several hundred people jammed into Courtroom A at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center hoping to witness the first punches in the latest legal brawl between Southern States and Bartow County residents over a proposed landfill near Euharlee Road and Hodges Mine Road.

Instead, they got a pillow fight.

“We filed a declaratory judgement, or a complaint, that the county ordinances and the joint waste management plan are not consistant with the landfill site for a number of reasons,” said Genevieve L. Frazier, attorney for a group of residents who object to the proposed landfill. “The topography can’t withstand a landfill with its sinkholes and streams. When their plans fail — and they will fail, then hazardous waste will go into wells, small tributaries, the Macedonia flue and eventually into the Etowah River. Because we were concerned that certain permits might be issued, we filed for a temporary restraining order. The county agreed that they aren’t going to file or issue any permits, so now it is moot.”

Frazier said the hearing had been scheduled to ask the court for a preliminary injunction ordering Bartow County and Southern States not to issue anything the injunction prohibits. In the meantime, the county agreed, thus eliminating the need to continue the injunction process.

Attorneys on the other side of the aisle say the case shouldn’t even be in a courtroom. Attorney David Archer filed a motion on behalf of Southern States asking Judge Shepherd Howell to dismiss the complaint because it is currently pending at the Environmental Protective Division (EPD).

“I believe the remedy for these types of things should be at the EPD and not the courts,” Archer said.

Because Archer’s motion for dismissal was filed a day before the hearing, Howell allowed the plaintiff’s attorneys 30 days to respond.

County Administrator Peter Olson said he has been trying to explain all along that zoning is not the issue. In a 1994 lawsuit between Southern States and Bartow County, the court overturned the county’s decision to deny zoning approval zoning and refusal to allow a landfill. The only action standing between the landfill and its opponents is approval of a solid waste handling permit.

“We don’t issue those permits,” Olson said. “People came out of that hearing thinking that the county issues those permits, but we don’t. It’s between the owner and the EPD whether or not they get the solid waste handling permit. The public hearing two weeks ago was a part of that process — local government is required to gather comments and send them to the EPD.”

Howell set June 28 as the deadline for the attorneys to submit briefs. Howell will review the case on July 1.