Residents give legislators an agenda

Mon, 01/14/2008 - 9:32am
By: The Citizen

Residents from around Fulton County came to the Coverdell government building Jan. 9 to make their positions known to nearly a dozen members of the county’s House and Senate delegation. South Fulton residents were clearly represented at the meeting, with concerns ranging from the potential restructuring of Fulton County Commission, calls for the formation of a township and keeping Grady Hospital intact to environmental concerns over the Red Oak rock quarry and the need to re-commission Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and Georgia Dept. of Public Health (DPH).

A number of residents wanted legislators to keep the make-up of the commission as it exists today, while others such as Chuck Armstead wanted six district representatives and one at-large chairman. Some in attendance also wanted to see law enforcement duties transitioned away from Fulton County Police and put into the hands of the sheriff’s office. Another south Fulton resident, Carolyn Lisbon, opposed the change to five commissioners and asked legislators to forestall future annexation efforts and pursue other options such as the upcoming bill to form a township in unincorporated south Fulton.

South Fulton resident and South Fulton Concerned Citizens President Benny Crane urged legislators to support House Bill 89 that would establish a township in unincorporated south Fulton and House Bill 900 that would bring sales tax dollars to the area.

“HB 900 is a good piece of legislation that will treat the citizens in unincorporated areas of Fulton County, who are governed as an incorporated community because of the Shafer Amendment, as if they were in fact an incorporated community,” Crane said. “The LOST (Local Option Sales Tax), which currently is directed to the general fund, would be redirected to the Special Services District.”

Other speakers addressed environmental and quality of life concerns. South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force Chairman Connie Biemiller gave a brief history of the illnesses of hundreds of area residents in 2006 after continuously inhaling “wash water” from the organophosphate pesticide ethoprop after it escaped the Phillip Services Corp. (PSC) waste treatment on Ga. Highway 92. Biemiller called for PSC’s state permit to be revoked, for EPD to be re-commissioned by the General Assembly and for a thorough review of DPH’s operational and response protocols to be undertaken.

Not the least of the concerns stated Jan. 9 was that of Che Renfro, who spoke of the long-time problem in neighborhoods such as the Pine Tree and Meadows subdivisions with conditions emanating from the Red Oak rock quarry. The loud, frequent blasting and pervasive dust is tearing up the interiors and exteriors of homes and is destroying residents’ quality of life, Renfro said. EPD has been no help, he said, calling for the facility’s permit to be revoked and an investigation into the damage to homes and air quality.

Many of the nearly 100 Fulton residents attending made the case for keeping Grady Hospital open and fully functioning. A common sentiment among many of the speakers was that Grady needs to be a regional hospital with all counties using its services paying their fair share.

login to post comments