House Bill 226 wording must change and Land Use Needed

March 25, 2013
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WNEG Editorial

March 26, 2013

House Bill 226 wording must change and Land Use Needed

 

This is Brian Akin. Recently I wrote a letter to members of the Senate Committee for Natural Resources and The Environment along with some members of The House of Representatives, and Governor Nathan Deal to address some concerns I had for House Bill 226. On the surface, this bill appears to regulate the storage and disposal of used tires. However, lines 16-20 in the proposed bill seem to address composting, an entirely different subject. I strongly object to removing the words “controlled, stable, and odor free” from the current law.

My reason for objecting to this change is legitimate. For nearly 3 years now, the residents of Stephens County (Toccoa) have been battling a waste recycling and composting company in our area due to ongoing, noxious odors that emanate from the facility on a daily basis. Words simply cannot describe how terrible these odors truly are. These odors invade our homes and businesses, permeate our schools, damage our community’s reputation, harm the local economy, depress property values, and create health concerns just to name a few. As an individual, I am tired of smelling the fumes. As a parent of two daughters in the local school system, I worry about the effect on their health. As a CEO of a company in the footprint of the worst of the smell, I am concerned about the effects on our business. As a local taxpayer, I am infuriated that our county has well over $100 Million in public schools and recreation facilities practically next door to this waste/composting operation.

One would think that the EPD would step up to the plate and do its part to protect the community. To be quite frank, we have not received much help from the GA EPD. Most of the EPD’s actions have been an attempt to side-step this issue and “kick the can down the road”. Currently, the issue is involved in litigation (headed to trial May 21) with the Stephens County Government, City of Toccoa, Stephens Co. Board of Education, and a local concerned citizens group serving as plaintiffs. I along with many others, fear that the new language in HB 226 is an attempt by the EPD to get away from the odor issue all together. Composting has nothing to do with used tires, and therefore, has no place in HB 226. EPD’s job is to protect the community, not destroy it!

My letter went on to urge the members of the Senate Committee and the House of Representatives to not be fooled by claims that only a few people are upset in our community. I urged them to research this issue further and let their conscience be their guide as they consider how to proceed with this bill.

I want to thank members of our community who travelled down to the Senate Committee’s hearing and let their concerns be heard as well.

Issues like this underscore the need for having land use regulations in our county. I urge the Stephens County Commission to take this into consideration at tonight’s meeting.

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