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$320K settlement ends landfill lawsuit
Family feared wells were contaminated
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Forsyth County News

A six-year-old civil suit over the closure of a northwest Forsyth landfill concluded Tuesday as the county commission approved a settlement agreement.

Robin and Terry Solomon will receive $320,000 to dismiss the suit, which contended the Hightower Road Municipal Landfill’s closing caused contamination of wells on their neighboring property.

In addition, $20,000 will go toward building a replacement well for agricultural purposes only, said Ken Robin with the county attorney’s law firm.

The county must also put in a public water line by mid-year to the property, and the Solomons must hook up to that line and stop using groundwater wells for human consumption, Robin said.

The Solomons will deed one of the three parcels, about 2.5 acres, to the county, which will cap and abandon the well on that site per Georgia Environmental Protection Division regulations, he said.

Also, a restrictive covenant will be imposed on the property preventing any well within a zone about 700 feet near the landfill, until post-closure monitoring is complete, Robin said.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the settlement includes a full release of claims, a dismissal and issuing of affidavits listing people on the property from the Solomons.

“I can recommend to shut this down, that the board approve it,” Jarrard said.

In addition, the payment to the Solomons will come from insurance the county bought when it closed the landfill, as well as from Association County Commissioners Georgia, according to risk manager Charity Clark.

“We have met our deductible some time ago, since, as Ken said, it’s been ongoing since 2008,” Clark said. “The county, I think, is in a good position and doesn’t have any additional exposures that we’re aware of.”

The county owns the former 111-acre landfill, which closed in 1999. The chemical of concern to the Solomons, cis-1,2-dichloroethylene, could cause liver damage if consumed “well in excess of the maximum contaminant level,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

However, Robin said measurements taken didn’t detect the chemical near the unsafe level.

The agreement states the county is in compliance with the EPD post-closure monitoring plan and denies any liability to the Solomons, however, the settlement is intended to “avoid the expense, trouble and uncertainty associated with litigation.”

Forsyth will continue to monitor the inactive landfill site, as well as two wells and two springs on the Solomons’ site until the EPD confirms the post-closure requirements are no longer necessary.

The family, which has owned the land since 1985, uses the 105 acres for cattle, a blueberry farm and homes, according to the settlement agreement.