Newton County settles landfill dispute
Agreement puts an end to regional landfill on Lower River Road
Newton County has reached a settlement agreement with East Georgia Land and Development Company that prevents the construction of a regional landfill near Lower River Road.
The agreement includes the company donating its approximately 424 acres of land located near the Newton County Landfill and the Yellow River to the county with the restriction that it not be used for a landfill or industrial purposes.
Though Newton County will have to pay $10 million to East Georgia Land in the settlement, the county avoids the environmental impact of a large private regional landfill such as one proposed by East Georgia Land. The company purchased the property in 1997 with the intention of creating a regional landfill. That request was denied by Newton County’s zoning administrator citing a 1985 ordinance. A record of the ordinance, however, could not be found and years of East Georgia Land prompted legal battles ensued.
In 2012, Newton County Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn ruled in favor of Newton County citing a zoning ordinance map created in July of 1985. That ruling was overturned in 2014 by the Supreme Court of Georgia, which said the ordinance was invalid because the zoning map was not attached to the ordinance upon its creation in May of 1985.
East Georgia Land continued its pursuit of a compliance letter to build the landfill and filed an inverse condemnation claim for diminished value on the property from the time of its purchase in 1997.
Newton County was close to a deal two years ago in which it would have purchased the land for $8.5 million and then leased all landfill property to a company to be developed into a regional landfill. However, the board of commissioners at that time voted against turning its landfill over to a private company for the purposes of regional use.
“This is good for the citizens of Newton County because we won’t have to worry about a regional landfill in our community,” said Newton County Chairman Marcello Banes of the agreement. “Now our roads and infrastructure won’t be damaged and there won’t be a lot of trash coming in from different areas of the state and impacting our community. “
In the last two years Newton County and East Georgia have been working to resolve the issue, in which Newton County was seeking to prevent development of a large regional landfill.
On Monday, April 10, a settlement was signed that concludes the county’s relationship with East Georgia Land once damages are paid, puts years of legal costs to an end and prevents a costly litigation with an unknown outcome. The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the settlement agreement during Tuesday’s public meeting in the Newton County Historic Courthouse.
“I’m very happy with the outcome of the April 10 mediation period,” Newton County Attorney Megan Martin said. “The Newton County Board of Commissioners has listened to the citizens and made a very good decision to prevent the construction of a regional landfill in Newton County. In just 98 days in office these leaders have concluded many matters but most importantly put an end to a 20-years litigation.”