Town hall meeting scheduled for landfill

By Justin Boron

North Clayton County business owner and resident Danny Hayes says he and his neighbors aren't going to budge when it comes to a landfill in their community.

The project, more than four years in the works, is planned for Flat Shoals and West Lee Mill roads. The site has been used as a source of dirt for the fifth runway project at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Hayes said people east of Flat Shoals Road and in the Garden Walk area would be most directly affected.

To rally opposition to the landfill, he has helped organize a town hall meeting. The forum will be held Thursday at Christian Fellowship Church, 1500 Norman Drive.

But even as Hayes attempts to rouse and inform, progress toward the landfill is pushing further past the planning stages.

Citizen negotiations with the Stephens MDS representatives over the past two months are approaching their final meeting slated for June 6 and Hayes said they may be headed for an impasse.

"All that Stephens wants to do is the bare minimum because they don't have to live in the community," he said.

The talks, which are required for the Stephens MDS to get a construction and demolition landfill permit, are not binding and the company doesn't have an obligation to make concessions, said Jeff Cown, the program manager for solid waste management at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

But a spokesman for the Lawrenceville-based company owned by John D. Stephens said that is not the owners' style.

Ernie Jones, a senior associate for a firm representing the company, said establishing a rapport with the community in which its landfill would exist is a high priority.

Members of Joe Tanner and Associates, a consultant firm handling public relations for the Stephens' company, has participated in the meetings.

Jones said he was confident that an amicable solution would be reached.

Some of the requests made by the citizens group, Hayes said, include a fence around the landfill, a liner protecting the soil from contamination, and possibly walking trails to beautify the area around the landfill to save property values.

The landfill proposal's history goes back three years ago when it was rezoned in January 2001. The Board of Commissioners subsequently approved an expansion of the landfill in April 2003.

The company initially sought an inert landfill permit.

The construction and demolition permit the company is currently seeking, expands the list of waste types to include asbestos, Cown said.

The landfill would be the first for Stephens MDS.