Cobb commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on a settlement that would allow the Bankhead C&D Transfer Station to accept household garbage to be sent to landfills. It can now only transfer waste from construction and demolition sites.
But Fulton Chairman John Eaves, in a letter to Cobb Chairman Tim Lee and southwest Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid, said the transfer station could pose a threat to planes taking off and landing at Fulton County Airport Charlie Brown Field. The station is located about a mile from the airport’s most-used runway, which Eaves said is closer than federal guidelines recommend. It is also 2,000 feet from a proposed north terminal expansion at Charlie Brown.
“The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a policy guidance regarding how close municipal solid waste facilities should be to general aviation airport,” Eaves wrote. “Municipal solid waste facilities tend to attract wildlife, including birds, which pose a real substantial threat to general aviation.”
Eaves went on to write that the Georgia Business Aviation Association, made up of private pilots who fly planes like those using Charlie Brown airport, also has contacted Cobb commissioners in opposition. FAA has directed it to do.
If approved, the settlement would allow Bankhead to take in 150,000 tons of garbage a year at its facility on Veterans Memorial Highway.
The Georgia Department of Transportation issued a report last year that advised that the transfer station could attract birds if it were to take in household trash. That report was one of the reasons given when Cobb commissioners unanimously rejected Bankhead’s request in May 2012.
But GDOT later changed its opinion based on what a spokesman called a misunderstanding, in which they believed the transfer station was actually a landfill where trash was permanently buried. The reversal helped lead to a tentative settlement agreement between Bankhead and the county. Commissioners are set to vote on the settlement at their Tuesday zoning hearing.
Adding to Eaves’s concern are federal sequestration staff cuts that are expected to close Charlie Brown airport’s control tower next month. The airport, located just over the Chattahoochee River from south Cobb, sees around 66,000 trips a year.
“If the towers are closed at Charlie Brown, pilots will have to rely on their instruments to maneuver their flights,” he wrote. “This is further complicated if birds are added to the equation by a waste transfer station.”
Cupid, who represents the district that includes the transfer station, said she wants to hear both sides of the issue on Tuesday.
“It’s hard for me to even offer my assessment because this is a legal matter,” she said. “I do believe the residents have legitimate concerns.”