Forsyth County has come to an agreement with a local landfill despite some objections by nearby neighbors.
At their meeting on Thursday, Forsyth County Commissioners approved 5-0 a memorandum of understanding with Advanced Disposal’s Eagle Point Landfill in northwest Forsyth.
Despite some concerns from public speakers who felt the agreement didn’t do enough, District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the agreement came from discussions with those living near the landfill.
“You should be able to see your handprints and your footprints all over the agreement because it came from you,” Mills said. “It might not be 100 percent everything you wanted, but it was definitely the input.”
Mills said the agreement had taken months of work and been formed through many meetings and work with consultants.
Under the agreement, the landfill could not expand past the footprint of a 1993 agreement.
The county will receive 10 cents per cubic yard of additional space for the expansion starting 90 days after receiving the permit. Jarrard said the landfill expects the 20 million-25 million cubic yards for the expansion, meaning $2 million-$2.5 million in revenue for the county.
The agreement will also require the landfill to pay the county $1.50 for each ton of waste. The county currently receives $1 per ton of commercial demolition waste, debris from construction, and $1.25 per ton for municipal solid waste, everyday items.
In 2028, the county will begin receiving $2 per ton and would increase at the same ratio as any change to the state minimum fee.
The county will also have access to security footage of the landfill’s scales where trucks are weighed — which will be streamed live to the county’s office — will be able to do audits of the landfill’s books and the landfill will have guaranteed space for the county’s waste.
A portion of the agreement related to the Hightower landfill was removed from the final motion.
In recent months, the landfill’s plans for expansion, which still needs to be approved by the state’s Environmental Protection Division rather than the county’s zoning process, has been controversial to those living nearby.
The agreement is intended to help with some issues raised by neighbors.
Many of the speakers at the meeting said they had only recently received a copy of the agreement and asked commissioners for more time to review it.
“Since the decisions made here will affect us and future generations, unless you can show cause for this rush in approving this … I respectfully ask that you hold off on this until more people and environmentally protective agreement can be reached,” said speaker Wilma Turner.
Chairman Todd Levent said one reason the agreement needed to be passed was to allow the county to have some regulation of the landfill, which the county did not have prior to the approval.
Several speakers spoke against parts of the agreement or asked for an extension. One resident, Nancy Amestoy, stood in the back of the room in a hazmat suit with a sign that read “Toxic Dump Threatens Forsyth and the Etowah.”
Several members of the group Stop Trashing Forsyth and the Etowah spoke out about possible environmental fears, such as toxic materials reaching the nearby Etowah River.
The agreement is one of several ongoing topics with the landfill.
Unrelated to the expansion, a methane gas refinery plant is being considered at the landfill, which neighbors have opposed.
Earlier this month, commissioners voted to move ahead with a public hearing in January on an ordinance prohibiting “the introduction of Coal Ash, Fly Ash, and other by-products of coal-based power generation” and “leachate spraying, misting or aerosolization” at all landfills in the county.
The requirements of the ordinance were not part of Tuesday’s agreement, as officials with the landfill wanted the policy to be county-wide instead of only affecting them.
Mills said the county would continue trying to work on citizen’s issues.
“This is not the end,” Mills said. “We are going to see this through and be able to continue to work to keep perfecting things and make things better.”