Commissioners are bound by law to oppose the rail spur
Wed, 06/22/2016 - 1:50pm
The county commissioners all stated publicly that they were opposed to coal ash being dumped in Wayne County. For a while it seemed they were in tune with the people who elected them.
What has become increasingly clear as weeks pass by is that the commissioners, as a group, have no intention of putting the people of this county before money. If that were not the case, they would collectively be doing something to oppose the plans for Central Virginia Properties to violate a local ordinance and run roughshod over the good people of Wayne County.
It is politically convenient for the commissioners to say they are bound by the agreements with Republic Services signed back in 2005. They say they are contractually bound to not interfere with the company’s plans for how it operates the landfill.
Here’s the problem with them taking that easy out. They can oppose the plan to bring coal ash into this county without violating the agreement with Republic.
First, the commissioners could inquire of the county attorney as to the validity of a 2005 agreement which is being used in an attempt to validate a violation of a local ordinance written in 2000. Surely it was a mistake by the commissioners and the Wayne County Solid Waste Authority in 2005 to sign off on an agreement which violated a standing local ordinance.
The ordinance to which I refer is found in the “Wayne County, GA Code of Ordinances,” available online. In Section 16-56 are “Wetlands protection regulation.”
The code states, “Prohibited uses: In compliance with the Georgia Rules for Environmental Planning Criteria, the following uses are prohibited entirely and no permit shall be issued for them. (1) Receiving areas for toxic or hazardous waste or other contaminants.”
What part of “no permit shall be issued” is it that even the most literacy-challenged commissioner cannot read?
In fact, look up the “Rules of Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division”, Chapter 391-3-16.03. In paragraph (e) 1 you will find the exact same wording.
The commissioners should ask EPD why it is not standing behind its own rules and insisting that the rail spur cannot be constructed in wetlands.
The commissioners are obliged by their own law to notify Central Virginia Properties (CVP) that the company will not be allowed to construct a rail spur at Broadhurst because to do so would violate the local ordinance that protects our wetlands. The commissioners would not be in violation of their operations agreement with Republic by opposing the CVP application before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is CVP, not Republic, which has applied for the Corps permit. It is Republic, not CVP, which has an agreement with the commissioners.
How can the commissioners look us voters in the eye and say they are bound by a 2005 agreement with Republic and yet are somehow not bound by a local ordinance (law) that was passed in 2000? In fact, the 2005 agreement, they should argue, is not legal when it is used to constrain them from obeying the local ordinance of 2000.
And let’s be clear. The wetlands ordinance of 2000 does not require the commissioners to object to how Republic operates its landfill (in compliance with the 2005 agreements). The proposed rail spur is not a part of the landfill. The landfill company has purchased additional land outside the permitted landfill and is seeking to build a rail spur.
The standing wetlands-protection ordinance does not take into consideration the operation of the landfill. It simply makes it illegal for the commissioners to allow the destruction of wetlands in order to allow the construction of a facility to receive toxic materials—i.e., coal ash.
Republic can be allowed to continue its operation and even expand the landfill and operate it with no objections from the commissioners. But the commissioners are bound by local law to not permit the planned rail spur when to do so would allow the destruction of our wetlands.
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