Cobb settlement could allow expansion at waste transfer site

Cobb County has received a settlement offer that would allow the expansion of a waste transfer station in Mableton, despite protests from nearby residents.

Last year, commissioners rejected a petition to allow the Bankhead C&D Transfer Station along Veterans Memorial Highway to expand its operation to take in household garbage. The company, which accepts construction and demolition waste, appealed the decision to superior court.

Now, the county is considering a proposed settlement that would allow the company to expand and receive about 150,000 tons of waste each year. The proposed agreement will go before commissioners for a vote after a public hearing on Feb. 19.

Residents who thought they successfully defeated the expansion last year feel blindsided by the possible settlement, saying they fear the expansion will damage their quality of life and home values.

“Nothing has changed,” said Shelia Edwards, a nearby resident leading the opposition to the expansion. “It’s waste, it’s near the community, it’s near the river. If the county is taking this position, we want to know why. We have a right to know as taxpayers what’s going on.”

Cobb has 12 permitted waste stations, including six located within a four-mile radius of each other in the south Cobb area, according to the residents’ attorney. Edwards and other community activists argue that the expansion will stymie efforts to revitalize the south Cobb area.

Garvis Sams, the company’s attorney, couldn’t comment on the case because the litigation is still pending. But documents filed with the county show the settlement offer is hinged on a reversal of opinion by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Originally, the agency recommended against the expansion, saying it would be too close to the Fulton County Airport to accept household waste. There was concern that the garbage would attract birds, which could interfere with flights.

Lawyers for the company said GDOT’s opinion was incorrectly based on the belief that Bankhead C&D was a landfill, when it’s actually a waste transfer station that sorts garbage to send to landfills.

In January, GDOT issued a letter saying the facility would meet proper guidelines if it agrees to modifications outlined in the county rezoning. Those include additional building enclosures and the use of odor and dust controls.

Rob Hosack, Cobb’s director of community development, said if commissioners choose not to accept the settlement, the case will go back to court and a trial date will be set.