By Valerie Baldowski
Henry County residents will have a chance next month to comment on the Joint County/Cities Solid Waste Management Plan for 2008-2018, prepared by the Henry County Planning and Zoning Department.
The 106-page plan was prepared with input from city officials from McDonough, Stockbridge, Hampton and Locust Grove, and has been sent to the Atlanta Regional Commission for review. The Henry County Board of Commissioners is expected to hold a public hearing on the plan March 17.
The plan will bring curbside recycling to residents in unincorporated Henry, said county spokeswoman Julie Hoover-Ernst.
"That's huge for us," she said. "The citizens have asked for it."
The county's four municipalities handle their solid waste disposal services differently than the county, she said, and there will be no changes to those city services under the plan. "Those that have contracted with a specific hauler will continue to contract," Hoover-Ernst said.
Currently, Henry County does not have a contract with any specific waste hauler, and residents can choose their own hauler to pick up trash curbside.
Residents wishing to recycle must take items to the Henry County Recycling Center in McDonough, Hoover-Ernst said.
Under the new solid waste management plan, residents will still be able to choose their own waste haulers, but the haulers will be required to offer curbside pickup of recyclables.
"This is a mandate on the part of the haulers," said Hoover-Ernst. She stressed residents will be encouraged, but not required, to participate in the curbside recycling program.
"More people will start recycling, and it will make us busier," said Jennifer Edwards, the assistant director for the recycling center.
Currently the recycling center accepts residents' household trash, and Edwards said the center takes about 20 tons of trash per month. She hopes to see a decline in the amount of household trash when the requirement for haulers to offer curbside recycling trash kicks in.
"That would slack off," she said. "I'd love to see that happen."
The waste management plan notes that Henry County has experienced significant growth from 2000 to 2007.
Countywide, the number of households has increased by 59.1 percent.
McDonough has seen a 130.4 percent increase in the number of households; Stockbridge, a 120.5 percent increase; Locust Grove, a 106.3 percent increase; and Hampton, and 50.5 percent increase.