Fairburn OKs landfill annexation

Mon, 03/12/2007 - 8:38am
By: Ben Nelms

It was down to the wire Feb. 26 with a tie-breaking vote required by Mayor Betty Hannah to annex a 14.49-acre tract owned by Safeguard Construction & Demolition (C&D) Landfill into Fairburn city limits.

The Fairburn Planning Commission rejected the annexation Feb. 6 after complaints from neighbors opposing the move. Those objections included the presence of odors in the area, fill areas that have reached a higher elevation than originally indicated and materials not being covered with dirt from extended periods. Neighbors said trash had been accumulating along the facility’s perimeter, bordered by Bishop Road, U.S. Highway 29 and Johns River Road. Neighbors cited excessive truck traffic and their desire not to have the expansion occur as other reasons why they opposed the annexation.

City Administrator Jim Williams acknowledged the problems at the facility, stating that those issues had been resolved, adding that the corrections must not resurface.

“At the present time, the landfill is once again operating in accordance with all local and state regulations and the management is fully committed to maintaining its facility and its surroundings to the standards we expect,” Williams said. “It is not felt that this temporary glitch should be used as justification to deny the annexation. However, the management must understand that whether or not the annexation is approved, a substandard operation at the facility will not be tolerated.”

The council vote was split, with Frankie Arnold, Doug Crawford and Marian Johnson voting in favor of the annexation and with Ron Alderman, Mario Avery and Scott Vaughn opposed. Mayor Hannah cast the deciding vote in favor of the annexation.

Williams said Monday the annexation was a good move. He said the city has already began its own monitoring of the presence of adequate personnel and equipment and permit issues such as providing an adequate and timely dirt cover over deposited materials.

“The neighbors had a right to be angry. It was being operated carelessly and was not being covered,” he said, citing findings by city staff where materials inappropriate for a C&D landfill had been accepted at the facility. “But the city did the right thing to annex the property. And the city shares the responsibility to make sure it operates according to good management practices and C&D regulations. If they don’t comply we will have to take extreme measures.”

The 220-acre Safeguard was annexed into Fairburn several years ago, but the 14.49 acre site remained in Fulton County. The city’s local share of the facility’s tipping fees in the 2005-2006 fiscal year was $405,000.

Under state guidelines, C&D landfills are prohibited from accepting items such as household trash. Unlike facilities that take household trash, known as municipal solid waste landfills, C&D landfills are not required to have a liner designed to prevent leachate, rain water combined with deposited materials, from entering groundwater supplies.

The annexation was noteworthy for another reason. The 14.46-acre site was a stated reason for a re-write of House Bill 306. Sponsored by Rep. Virgil Fludd, Rep. Roger Bruce and others to address annexations by south Fulton cities prior to the June 19 vote on the city of South Fulton, the recently re-written HB 306 gave cities a Feb. 28 cutoff date for annexations to be completed. That date brought Fairburn in under the wire on successfully bringing the remainder of Safeguard into the city.

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