South Cobb residents who live near a waste transfer station scored a victory Tuesday when county commissioners refused to allow household garbage at the site.
Bankhead C&D Transfer Station currently accepts construction and demolition waste but wanted to expand its operation to take in household trash. The company’s rezoning proposal was rejected by commissioners, but Bankhead appealed the decision to superior court. A proposed settlement was reached with a commission representative, then sent back to the board for approval. That agreement was rejected.
Nearby residents were vehemently opposed to the addition of household waste, saying it would negatively affect property values along Veterans Memorial Highway, drive away local businesses and downgrade the quality of life. Parts of South Cobb that were once industrial are working to establish a residential base, which would have been threatened by the change, opponents said.
“We bought into the vision that the area was in transition,” said J.R. White, who was one of about 70 people who protested the settlement at Tuesday’s meeting. “To put a municipal transfer station where there’s a beauty salon and an outdoor pizza restaurant — people don’t want to go outside when it smells like trash.”
Garvis Sams, Bankhead’s attorney, disputed concerns and said the company met all the conditions of the rezoning. The case will go back to superior court and Bankhead could elect to take the case to trial, Sams said.
“We’re disappointed [the commissioners] didn’t follow through with the settlement they authorized to go forward,” he said.
With its convenient location to the airport, downtown Atlanta and the Chattahoochee River, South Cobb has long been seen as prime for potential growth. Mableton, the area near Six Flags Over Georgia and areas lining the river have all been targeted for redevelopment. But over the years, frustrated neighborhood advocates say there’s been a lot of research on how to improve these areas but little follow-up.
Some spots, such as the neighborhoods near Six Flags, have a high concentration of aging apartments resulting in increasing crime and vacancies. Others have had trouble pivoting from industrial to residential communities.
The median household income in the area is $47,116, compared to $65,400 in Cobb County, according to 2010 Census data and the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority. About 81 percent of South Cobb residents completed high school compared to about 91 percent countywide.
Residents feared allowing Bankhead C&D to take in household waste would damage redevelopment efforts. Cobb has 12 permitted waste stations, including six located within a four-mile radius of each other in the South Cobb area.
“I look at South Cobb as a hidden gem, and when I heard about this I was mortified about having my business next to a waste facility,” said Jason Griggers, who owns Escape Hair Salon.
Residents also took issue with Bankhead’s past alleged transgressions. The company has twice been cited by the county for taking in household waste without the proper permits. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources issued a notice of violation to the company last year for improper management of storm water runoff and improper handling of construction and demolition materials.
The agency inspected the site March 4 and determined the company had yet to make the required changes, said Kevin Chambers, spokesman for DNR’s Environmental Protection Division.
Bankhead’s attorney said the company’s previous owner had state permission to take in the household waste when the first citation was issued. Sams said after the first citation, Bankhead had assurance from the county that enforcement would be delayed while it was working to get the proper approval.
County officials say they gave no such assurance.
Bankhead was working to get county permission when the second citation took place. The company is working to address DNR’s concerns, Sams said.
Commissioners rejected the settlement 4-0.