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Newco comes back before commission

By Ed Brock

A controversial proposal by a landfill company to expand its operations north of Riverdale will come back before the Clayton County Commission Tuesday morning.

In April the commission voted n in a split decision n to turn down the request of Newco Ventures to rezone 281 acres of land in northern Clayton County for use as a construction and demolition landfill.

The company appealed the decision to Clayton County Superior Court, saying the county violated the company's constitutional rights by not allowing them the best use of the land. The court remanded the case back to the county in its ruling, ordering that the commission reconsider the rezoning decision, according to county attorney Jack Hancock.

At 9 a.m. the commission will reconsider the case during a regular meeting at the county Administration Building at 112 Smith Street in Jonesboro. Members of the Tri-County Community Association Inc. will be there to renew their protest to the expansion, TRICCA member Alita Knox said.

Previously TRICCA sent a letter to the commission requesting that a public hearing required by the court order be held at night.

"We require it to be done at night because 90 percent of our citizens work and won't be able to attend a morning meeting," Knox said.

There will be an opportunity for public input on the proposal during Tuesday's meeting, county spokeswoman Suzanne Brown said, but she didn't know if another public hearing would be held on the matter.

Commission Chairman Crandle Bray doesn't think the court's decision locks the county into approving the landfill.

"I'm sure we'll take some action to zone the land to what we perceive to be constitutional," Bray said previously.

Knox said the landfill would be "environmentally unfriendly," particularly in light of its proximity to two new elementary schools, the Flint River (Clayton County's primary water supply) and residential neighborhoods.

But David Flint, a Newco representative, maintains that the landfill n which will only allow construction and demolition debris and inert material, such as tree stumps and branches n would be a better neighbor than the quarry currently operated on the land. The landfill could be phased in over time as the quarry is mined for fill dirt for the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport fifth runway project, Flint said previously.

A quarry is a much more intense operation than a landfill, Flint explained, because of the blasting and rock crushing that take place there. In addition, Flint speculated that the county could make as much as $15 to 20 million in user fees collected by those dumping materials at the landfill.

"This would be a good use for the property, and there is no other practicable use for this land," Flint said.

Newco is an Atlanta-based firm providing fill dirt and rock for a fifth runway at Hartsfield Airport.

The company hopes to eventually put the landfill on the site of a quarry between Lee's Mill and Flat Shoals roads now being used for fill material as part of the runway project.

Also, state Rep. Victor Hill, D-College Park, will also speak at Tuesday's meeting regarding the county's policy on employees running for political office. Hill is a detective with the Clayton County Police Department and a candidate for Clayton County Sheriff.