Council nixes 24-hour security condition for property housing prescription drugs

Cartersville City Council approves townhomes rezoning, medical sterilization facility permit

Members of the Cartersville City Council voted unanimously Thursday evening to approve a special-use permit request from an Atlanta-based company looking to open a medical waste transfer station near Peeples Valley Road. 

But the approval may have come with a major — and perhaps unintended — revision to a condition placed on the proposal by the City of Cartersville Planning Commission. 

The planning commission voted 5-1 last month to recommend approval of the request from Regulated Services, LLC to bring a medical waste sterilization facility to 375 Industrial Park Road.

Prior to Thursday’s council meeting, applicant counsel Brandon Bowen supplied council members with a list of United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provisions for the proposed development, which would house expired pharmaceuticals.

Among other provisions, Bowen’s letter to council members indicate that the entire facility must be fenced and gated to meet DEA requirements, with “scheduled controlled pharmaceuticals” on the premises maintained in a locked vault and other scheduled pharmaceutical products placed “in a locked cage.” 

Bowen also said the applicant was not opposed to modifying the condition pertaining to chemical treatments at the site.

“There’s been a question of whether or not we would be open to broadening the condition on chemical processing to cover sterilization of medical products for use, to prohibit that,” he said. “We would be fine with that condition, and I’ve submitted some notes that would do that.”

From there, Councilman Gary Fox made a motion to approve the special-use permit, with an updated condition prohibiting the “chemical processing of medical waste for sterilization of medical products prior to use.”

At that point, City of Cartersville attorney Keith Lovell asked Fox if he wanted to include the DEA provisions laid out in the letter from Bowen as additional conditions on the development.

“In my opinion, since this is controlled by the DEA, I don’t see a reason to be redundant about that,” he responded. 

That got City of Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini involved in the discussion, as well.

“Just as a point of further clarification, the planning commission added the condition for the off-hours monitoring,” he said. “You don’t feel like the condition needs to be included in this, correct?”

To which Fox replied, “I feel like they’re going to be required to meet the DEA standards, and that is something more than that.”

The council opted to approve the special-use permit request without the planning commission's specified security requirement condition carrying over. 

There’s just one catch — in the letter Bowen sent to council members regarding DEA provisions, there is nothing explicitly stated requiring the physical presence of off-hours security personnel at the facility. In fact, the letter from Bowen states that only 24/7 video monitoring and “alarm monitoring by an independent security company” is required at the waste transfer station. 

That means the permit request approved by council, essentially, stipulates lower security measures than recommended by the planning commission, which suggested security personnel be “at all times onsite” at the facility. 

According to conceptual plans from the applicant, Regulated Services, LLC looks to construct two additional buildings — one at 8,000 square feet and the other at 10,800 square feet — on the property. 

At a first reading of the special-use permit request before council members, Bowen said the applicant will use an autoclave device to sterilize used medical equipment, which he described as similar to “pressure cooker technology.”

“It is simply making the waste very hot, at well over 200 degrees for quite a while  over 30 minutes, at high pressure,” he said. “And when it comes out of that process, it goes through a shredder, which reduces its size by about 65%, so it can take up less of the landfill.”

A Regulated Services, LLC representative told council members he believes that truck volume at the site would start around 30 trips a day and increase to around 150 daily. At full buildout, he said the project would bring about 25-30 jobs to Cartersville.

Council members likewise voted unanimously to approve a rezoning request from Tri Unity Holdings, LLC, shifting about 8.52 acres at 1136 and 1138 North Tennessee St. from general commercial/office commercial use to general commercial/multiple-use zoning. 

The same company applied for, and received, a special-use permit from the council last year to construct a significantly larger mixed-use project at the same location. At that time, applicant Baha Kharazmi told council members he had plans for a 55,000-square-foot development, dubbed “The Felton Walk,” which would have contained restaurants, retailers and upward of 100 residential units.

Unable to procure the funding for that project, Kharazmi returned to the City earlier this year with a substantially scaled-down product — this one consisting of just 37 three-and-four-bedroom townhomes and less than 7,000 square feet of office/commercial property.

“It’s pretty simple,” Kharazmi said at Thursday night’s meeting. “We’ve just pretty much downsized the number of residents, no commercial in the back, just the front building will remain.”

There was some brief debate about whether or not an unnamed road looping through the proposed development would remain private or become a part of public infrastructure.

“The City may actually require them as part of that development to go in and rip that whole road up and put in a brand new one and build it to City specs,” Lovell said. “But that would be done during the development phase, whether it’s a private street or a public road.”

Councilwoman Kari Hodge made a motion that the rezoning be approved, albeit with a condition that said roadway be accessible to adjoining property owners, whether or not it’s ultimately determined to be private or public. She also made a motion to carry over one condition from the previous multiple-use permit, requiring the applicant to construct an eight-foot-tall privacy fence along the property line bordering the Pointe North subdivision.

Concept plans from the applicant indicate traffic would flow from a “right in, right out” entrance along Felton Road at the proposed development. The plan also calls for about 55 parking spaces, with an option to add 12 more spaces pending an access point along Tennessee Street is reconfigured.