Dave Emanuel | Cut To The Chase

If you think locating a waste transfer station in a residential area is a bad idea, you might want to look at a few facts.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, here we go. This guy is going to try to convince me that it’s not a bad idea to have a noisy, stinking waste transfer station in my neighborhood. Read on. You just might be in for a surprise.

While I consider myself to be somewhat of a trash expert, (at my house, it’s my job to take the garbage out) I don’t know much about solid waste transfer stations. To get up to speed, I did some research and found a number of informative web sites including Dumpsters.com.

According to information on the site’s blog page, “Tracking Your Trash: What Happens at Waste Transfer Stations” waste transfer stations are “industrial facilities where municipal solid waste or MSW is temporarily held and sorted before heading to a landfill or waste-to-energy plant.”

The two operative words in that description are “industrial” and “held”. As they relate to the proposed transfer station on Ozora Road, there’s a distinct issue with locating an “industrial facility” on land that is currently zoned residential and is surrounded by residential properties. “Held” means that garbage won’t merely be transferred at the facility, it will be temporarily stored, during which time attendant odors may well blossom into a full-fledged stench. Although people find the odor of garbage to be unpleasant, rats and mice often find it inviting.

Another operation performed at waste transfer stations is the sorting of garbage to remove items that aren’t accepted at local landfills such as batteries or other hazardous materials. Whether or not hazardous materials are sorted and removed from the trash that is sent to a landfill, they will be spending some time at the waste transfer facility. If they are mishandled, they can leach into the soil and potentially make their way to a water shed, whereupon they may flow into streams that feed into a water supply system.

Considering the equipment used at a waste transfer facility- heavy trucks, front end loaders, conveyors and compactors, such facilities have much in common with other heavy industrial sites. Consequently, such sites are inappropriate for location in or close to residential areas. Without question, the site being proposed for Ozora Road falls into the inappropriate category.

“Not in my back yard”, an expression used by many homeowners is usually more of a figurative phrase than a literal one. In this case, it is entirely literal. To the southwest, less than 150 feet separates four residential properties from the proposed site. Two more are less than 200 feet away. To the north, eight residential properties are less than 300 feet from the proposed site; over 100 residential properties are within a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) of the site.

One can only wonder if it’s a coincidence that the residences most would be most affected by odor, noise and traffic are in subdivisions where houses are primarily priced at less than $200,000. Would such a facility have been proposed if the site was surrounded by half-million dollar homes?

If the foregoing considerations aren’t enough to convince the county’s planning commission and board of commissioners members that the proposed waste transfer station is an absurdly bad idea, perhaps the Gwinnett County 2040 Unified Plan will. Nowhere in the plan is it stated that a vision for the future is to reduce property values by locating waste transfer sites in residential areas.

Instead, the “Our Vision” chapter includes five themes:

1- Maintain Economic Development and Fiscal Health
2- Foster Redevelopment
3- Maintain Mobility and Accessibility
4- Provide More Housing choices
5- Keep Gwinnett a Preferred Place

To “Keep Gwinnett a Preferred Place”, the theme states, “This theme describes and ties together a broad array of issues that underpin “quality of life.” Among these issues are those related to the environment, open space and recreation, culture and entertainment, the quality of development, and adding more amenities and convenience to Gwinnett’s neighborhoods.”

Clearly, maintaining and improving livability is a major component of the plan to keep Gwinnett a preferred place. Just as clearly, having a noisy, smelly waste transfer station in your backyard does not improve livability.

It degrades it. 

UPDATE: The application for the waste station is withdrawn for the moment. New dates TBD.

To learn more and get involved, visit: www.StopOzoraRezoning.com

Facebook Group: Stop the waste transfer station on Ozora Rd!