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Commissioners rezone land for Eagle Point methane plant
Eagle Point Landfill

Amid concerns for neighbors, Forsyth County Commissioners approved allowing a northwest Forsyth landfill to build a new methane conversion facility.

On Tuesday, commissioners approved rezoning about 10 acres from Agricultural District (A1) to Restricted Industrial District (M1) for Clean Eagle LLC to build and operate a methane conversion plant at Advance Disposal’s Eagle Point Landfill and approved changes to the county’s unified development code to allow for such facilities.

District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who represents the area, said the county had hired two consultants to look at the facility. She said the commission felt the first study was not as thorough as it should be.

“So, we hired another consultant to get more in-depth into it and to look at safety issues, to look at placement of the plant, to look at some of the questions that had been raised to us,” she said. “I think we did all that so we could get to get to a comfort level that we had done [enough.]  It was new, something no one had heard of doing in this county.”

The proposed refinery plant would convert gases like methane and carbon dioxide to natural gas to be sold to Atlanta Gas Light. The plant would total 15,730 square feet with five parking spaces.

At a regular meeting last week, Forsyth County Commissioners heard from residents living near the landfill, many of whom attended Tuesday’s meeting, and officials with Enerdyne Power Systems Inc., a firm hired as a consultant to look at specifications and plans for the facility. 

Mills said the consultants spoke with neighbors for about an hour after the meeting.

Prior to that, several neighbors voiced their displeasure with the plant and process.

Bonnie Blanton, who lives near the landfill, had strong criticisms for commissioners and called the process the “worst experience of my entire life.”

“You didn’t fight for us,” she told commissioners. “There are so many things that I can make a list for that Forsyth County people need to know. It’s a smoke-screen to make it look like you’ve gone out there and fought a hard battle for us, but really what you’ve done is let Advance dictate what they will and won’t do. And as a host county, you fell short.”

The zoning has been discussed by the county since April 2017 and has been among several discussions surrounding the landfill, which have included a new ordinance to ban coal ash and a memorandum of understanding between the county and landfill.

Under the memorandum, 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 20-25 million cubic yards for the expansion, meaning $2-$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.

In February, commissioners approved a ban on the introduction of coal ash and the spraying, misting and aerosolizing of leachate — water that has gone through a solid and absorbed some of its contents — at landfills in the county.

Under the ordinance, all “coal combustion residuals,” or items generated from the burning of coal for electricity, are banned including “fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag and flue gas desulfurization materials” are banned in the county.

While many ways of dealing with leachate are banned, using a process to evaporate leachate is not.