Waste transfer station's expansion denied in south Cobb

Cobb County Commissioners denied a zoning request Tuesday for a south Cobb-area waste transfer station’s plans for expansion.

The decision came after months of stops and starts during which residents in the surrounding community lobbied hard against the plan.

The Bankhead C&D Transfer Station in Mableton along Veterans Memorial Highway had petitioned the county for a zoning change to allow it to take in household garbage. The company currently accepts construction and demolition waste, and the expansion would allow Bankhead Transfer to receive about 150,000 tons of waste each year. With Tuesday's denial, Bankhead Transfer can't reapply to the county for a year, but can appeal the decision to superior court.

"I'm recommending to my client that they appeal the decision because they've met all of the county's requirements for a special land-use permit," company attorney Garvis Sams said.

Residents argued the company’s request was detrimental to their quality of life and home values. Cobb currently has 12 permitted waste stations, including six located within a four-mile radius of each other in the south Cobb area, according to residents' attorney.

Despite the opposition, Cobb’s planners had initially recommended the zoning change, but changed their position after a Federal Aviation Administration report said the facility would be too close to the Fulton County Airport to accept this type of trash. There was concern that the garbage would attract birds which could interfere with flights.

“There had been a lot of talk about birds, but from the beginning our concern was people,” said Sheila Edwards, a community leader. “It’s people who pay taxes in this county and who live in this neighborhood, and it’s people who are affected by this.”

Residents were most concerned that Bankhead Transfer had been receiving household garbage without a county permit since 2010, Edwards said.

The company's previous owners received state permission to take in the trash, Sams said. But the company had not gotten county permission, has been cited by the county twice since last year and are due in court Thursday.

Also, this month, the state's Department of Natural Resources cited the company for stormwater and illegal landfill operations.

Now that the county permit has been denied, Cobb officials will decide soon whether to ask the court to expedite the citation process, said Rob Hosack, Cobb's community development director.