Landfill expansion opposed by some Twiggs County residents - (view story on Macon.com)

By Carl Lewis

clewis@macon.com

Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010

It’s not just the rumble of garbage trucks past Tracie Fountain’s Twiggs County home each day that perturbs her.

It’s the odor.

Fountain lives just down the road from the Wolf Creek Landfill in Dry Branch, so close that she can smell the garbage dumped there. She’s one of the 779 Twiggs County residents who have signed a petition opposing a planned expansion of the landfill.

In July, the company that owns it, Advanced Disposal of Jacksonville, Fla., filed a rezoning and conditional use application with the Twiggs County Planning and Zoning office to expand the landfill by nearly tripling its size, from 135 acres to about 370 acres.

Last month, a group of residents found out about the company’s plan to expand and banded together to speak out against it.

The Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the planned expansion at its meeting Tuesday night, voting unanimously to recommend that the Twiggs County Commission reject the company’s proposal during its Aug. 17 meeting.

Now, the five-member commission will decide whether the company will move forward with its plans.

Three of the commissioners, Ray Bennett, Donald Floyd and Milton Sampson, said Wednesday that they’re not sure yet if they’ll approve the application, saying they don’t know all the details. The other two commissioners, Kathryn Epps and Tommie Bryant, did not return phone calls.

As part of the agreement with the disposal company, the county receives $1 for each ton of waste the landfill processes. The figure increases to $1.20 per ton if the amount surpasses 500 tons per day and to $1.40 if it exceeds 1,000 tons per day.

The landfill generally disposes of more than 1,200 tons of waste every day, according to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. That means for each day the landfill is in operation, the county brings in $1,400 to $1,700.

While that’s a large source of revenue for the county, resident Chris Bowen, who lives nearby, said he doesn’t think it’s enough money to justify keeping the landfill, which handles trash from several other counties, including Wilkinson, Jones and Bibb.

“We don’t want Twiggs County to be the dumping ground for the rest of the state. It doesn’t benefit anybody but the company and its pocketbook. Advanced Disposal is making a killing while killing our county,” Bowen said.

Virginia Villatoro, who works for Advanced Disposal in the landfill’s office, would not respond to specific concerns that the landfill could be getting too big. She did say she thinks the company has been aboveboard throughout the process.

“The required public notice postings and time frames have been complied with as required” by law, Villatoro said.

But for Fountain, who lives next door to the landfill with her two teenagers, the only thing that matters now is fending off the expansion proposal.

“I don’t want to smell trash at my house, and I don’t want my kids in danger and playing near the landfill,” she said. “Whether it’s only 20 people who live around here or 1,000, it affects everyone in the county.

“It’s a public problem, and it’s not the sort of thing we need if we want Twiggs County to grow.”

To contact writer Carl Lewis, call 744-4347.