Fulton County chairman questions waste transfer station
by Geoff Folsom
March 18, 2013 12:14 AM | 3797 views | 3 3 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Eaves, Fulton County Board of Commissioners chairman
John Eaves, Fulton County Board of Commissioners chairman
The Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners is asking his Cobb counterparts to take a waste transfer station’s proximity to his county’s airport into consideration when they vote on expanding the station.

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.”
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Julie L
March 18, 2013
Why would anyone not take any precaution possible for air safety? It seems to me that it's just not worht risking lives to have a trash station that close to a runway.
Beverly McMurray
March 18, 2013
I know first hand that the danger of landfills near airports attracting bird can be a real danger. I lived near the DeKalb-Peachtree airport when a bird was sucked into a plane engine that the plane crashed into an apartment complex and killed the resident back in the 1970's. This is not a situation to be taken lightly.
Concerned Resident
March 18, 2013
I have seen the documents where the Bankhead Transfer Station was cited on various occasions by Cobb County and the EPD in 2011 and 2012 for operating an illegal landfill and for operating MSW illegally. Cobb has these violations in the zoning files they have on the Bankhead "Trash" Transfer Station, which should be presented and reviewed at the Commission meeting on Tuesday. Bankhead Intentionally mislead GDOT and failed to provide these details on their illegal operations to GDOT when the agency requested all relevant information. Cobb County officials also knew that BTS had these violations of illegal land use and illegal zoning when they held the mediation and agreed to allow BTS to petition GDOT for a new letter. After receiving details on the company's illegal landfill operations, GDOT has issued a subsequent letter a few days ago which calls out the transfer stations failure to provide this information when seeking a reversal letter as well as acknowledging the Bankhead Transfer Stations illegal landfill activities near Charlie Brown airport. The company is a chameleon and continues to misrepresented itself over and over again.
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