Fairburn city council denies transfer station

Mon, 09/03/2007 - 9:04am
By: Ben Nelms

Applause broke out spontaneously in the Fairburn City Council chambers Monday night as the city council did something that most of the 150 in attendance had not expected. The council voted unanimously to deny a request to establish a construction waste and household trash transfer station on the city’s south side. Concern over the proposal was evidenced by the packed house of residents and the nearly endless list of local, state and federal elected officials.

Residents interested in the proposal filled the council chambers and spilled out into the hallway. Public comments were not taken since the proposal had been the subject of a previous public meeting. Present at the meeting, Congressman David Scott had arranged with Mayor Betty Hannah to address the council. Scott mirrored what residents and affected homeowners had stated in past meetings. Residents were concerned that damage to city streets, excessive truck traffic, impact on property values, odors, vermin and other factors would have a negative impact on nearby residential property.

Scott said he opposed the transfer station and had forwarded a letter to that effect to Georgia Environmental Division Director Carol Couch and to federal Environmental Protection Agency. Citing issues such as potential environmental justice violations, Scott urged the council to delay its decision on the transfer station and said his office would assist the city if it found itself in legal trouble over denying the proposal.

“This facility could be the death knell for the future of Fairburn,” Scott said.

Though not referenced at the meeting, Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edwards also wrote a letter to Couch saying he had recevied calls from Fairburn residents. Edwards opposed the transfer station, citing environmental stressors and other factors for his opposition.

Fairburn resident Barkley Russell followed Scott with comments on the city’s comprehensive plan. Though not directly concerning the transfer station proposal, Russell suggested that the city examine the plan to ensure that zoning issues were updated.

The motion to deny the conceptual site plan for the facility came as soon as the agenda item was announced, with Councilman Doug Crawford making the motion, followed by a simultaneous “second” by Councilwoman Marian Johnson and Councilman Ron Alderman. The room and hallway broke into cheers that nearly drowned out the unanimous vote to deny the request.

Located on Bohannon Road north of I-85, the conceptual site plan for the 26.48-acre site included a construction debris and household trash transfer station proposed by site owner Walker Brothers on property already zoned for such a facility. The plan had been approved previously by the city’s planning commission. After the meeting, Walker Brothers representatives had no immediate reaction to the vote.

The council also voted unanimously on a second motion to establish a 90-day moratorium to examine a change in the zoning ordinance that would require proposals for transfer stations to be brought before the council.

Though not customary with meetings of local elected boards, the Monday night meeting was dotted with numerous local, county, state and federally elected officials. Among those were Tyrone Town Council members Gloria Furr, Mike Smola and Grace Caldwell, Tyrone mayoral candidate Don Rehwaldt, Tyrone council candidate Eric Dial, Fulton County commissioners Bill Edwards and Rob Pitts, state Rep. Virgil Fludd and state Sen. Kasim Reed. Also present was environmental activist Yomi Noibi, Executive Director of Atlanta-based ECO-Action and South Fulton/Fayette Community Task Force Chairman Connie Biemiller.

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