The developers who pitched a new solid waste transfer station in eastern Gwinnett have withdrawn their rezoning request, leaving opposed residents declaring victory. If cautiously so.
“I think we still have to plan for the worst and hope for the best in this whole thing,” said Larry Rose, president of the Kensington Forest homeowners association.
Southern Sanitation owner Buddy Ray Johnson and landowner Darron Britt had proposed building the waste station — where household garbage is temporarily stored before being taken to a landfill — on a 50-acre site along Ozora Road near Loganville.
Fueled in part by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s reporting on the proposal, neighbors quickly rallied to form an organized opposition.
Citing fears that odors, vermin and truck traffic would follow the waste station and decrease property values in their predominantly residential community, thousands of people joined an opposition Facebook group and signed a petition. More than $11,000 was raised to pay for the neon green signs, banners and ribbons that went up all around the area.
Dozens of businesses and a handful of elected officials — from local mayors to state Sen. PK Martin and state Rep. Donna McLeod — also registered their disapproval.
The project would have required changing the wooded property’s residential zoning classification to heavy industrial. It also would’ve required a special use permit.
Those zoning requests were scheduled to be heard by the Gwinnett County planning commission on July 2. Planning commission chairman Chuck Warbington and Shane Lanham, the attorney representing the applicant, both confirmed Tuesday that the applications had been withdrawn.
“At this time, the applicant felt it was best to take a step back and consider all of their options for the property,” Lanham wrote in an email to the AJC.
Rose, the HOA president, said he had a two-hour meeting with Britt, the landowner, last week. When it became clear that the opposition wasn’t budging, they discussed other potential options for the property, Rose said.
Rose said that Britt would not commit to never resubmitting the waste transfer project or rule out proposing another industrial use on the site. But Britt did express a desire to try and find a residential solution that would be a win-win for all involved, Rose said.
“We’re not trying to keep it as greenspace,” Rose said. “We understand that he made an investment and he wants to recoup his money. We just don’t want to have something on top of us that is going to negatively impact our property values.”
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