“This is the albatross around our necks,” Olson said, displaying a 1994 court order that overturned the county’s zoning ordinance. “The county was ordered to issue a letter of zoning compliance and it was ruled that the county could not prohibit the operation of a landfill on that property. The property owners, Southern States Landfills, got their letter of compliance, but in the intervening years, they didn’t open a landfill, although they requested additional letters of compliance in 1994, 2004, 2008 and as late as 2012.
“As I have tried to say all along, the zoning battle was lost in 1994. The issues about groundwater and topography and sinkholes, that’s under EPD’s control. A lot of people think that the county issued some kind of a permit, but that isn’t true.”
Olson repeated that the landfill was not something the county was in favor of but it really had no option to stop it.
“We are not going to issue another letter,” Olson said, “but that’s really administrative and they will probably sue us.”
Olson said Southern States was close to getting the permit unless the information gathered at public hearings stops the process.
“Getting the permit isn’t the end of the issue by any means,” Olson said. “They don’t have the permit yet and that can be appealed. We’re on your side, and if we can stop it, we will stop it.”
That’s when the meeting began to feel more like a tent revival.
“This community doesn’t have to be bullied,” said Genevieve Frazier, attorney for residents living near the proposed landfill site.
“We’ve got people down at EPD right now fighting for this community,” she said, her voicing straining to be heard over the rising applause. “I appreciate what Commissioner [Steve] Taylor and Mr. Olson have done for us. By not writing that letter to EPD, he gave this community time, and I promise you, we are fighting. I don’t want any of you thinking that you’re going to have a landfill any time soon.”
In other business, the council:
• appointed Mayor Kathy Foulk to a one-year term on the Cartersville-Bartow County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
• approved the second reading of the zoning map.
• approved all monthly payables.
• appointed Barbara Ford to the Library Board.
• approved the purchase of an $11,000 video camera system for Frankie Harris Park to deter vandalism.
• appointed Carolyn Banks to the position of city clerk.