According to County Administrator Peter Olson, the landfill was proposed more than 25 years ago. In a 1994 lawsuit between Southern States Landfill of Smyrna and Bartow County, the court overturned the county’s decision to change zoning and refused to allow a landfill.
Right now, Olson continued, it’s between the owner and the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) whether or not they get the permit. The hearing was a part of that process — local government is required to gather comments and send them to the EPD.
That sounds like deja vu all over again to Harry Pugliese, a farmer and ardent opponent of the landfill.
Puliese said he was told by a Georgia EPD official that the department would not get involved until the area is rezoned.
“Southern States is trying to force the county commissioner to rezone the property for a landfill,” Pugliese said. “If it is rezoned, then the EPD would investigate and decide on the propriety of the decision — the same thing that happened 25 years ago.”
“This will be a construction and demolition (C&G) waste landfill,” said Keith Lovell, attorney for Southern States. ”All materials come from construction or demolition sites. This landfill will not accept food wastes or trash. Prior to the EPD issuing a permit, the site must undergo a hydrogeological report; that’s where temporary ground wells are installed and ground water tables are measured for pollutants like heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.”
Most people expressed their doubts about the selectivity of a G&G landfill with several noting they had worked at such an operation and saw frequent abuse of the rules.
Almost all, questons revolved around four concerns — air pollution, noise, traffic and endangered land.
“We have a well,” said Roger Imsande of Taylorsville. “I am terribly concerned about all this because if something gets thrown in there [the landfill] that is toxic and you discover it 10 months later, how do you get it out? It’s already in the drinking water.”
Darryl Presley of Kingston worries about his property values declining.
“You know as well as I do that they might say they are dumping only building materials,” Presley said, “but there’s gonna be other things dumped in there. That’s just gonna happen.”
Presley is also concerned about the heightened noise level.
“We will get all this big machinery running 12 to 15 hours a day,” he said. “Man, I worked hard my whole life to live out in the country in the peace and quiet. I’m not even going to be able to sell my home after this. And I don’t want to sell my home.”
Perhaps the most eloquent plea came from Carolyn Holstein.
“This is our community,” she said. “We have cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents. This is going to affect more than just drinking water; this will affect everything we have. Now I have to ask everyone in this room, ‘Would you be okay with your kid drinking that water?’ These people want to come in here and trash everything we have worked for. We can’t let that happen.”