The county, following the discovery of a zoning violation in a South Gainesville landfill, will likely not pursue additional penalties after prohibiting the site from taking in food waste.
On Monday, Hall County’s administrator, Randy Knighton, released a memorandum stating a review of the landfill — the Gainesville Waste and Recycling Landfill — showed that rotting food waste was causing a pungent odor in the area and was not allowed per the area’s zoning ordinance. The review stated food waste has been “strictly prohibited on this property.”
Knighton said there has been no discussion of fines or harsher penalties.
“We wanted to assess first, then determine if there was something inconsistent with zoning and then ensure that ceased promptly and I think we’ve accomplished that,” he said.
According to the review, in June the landfill had been issued a permit by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to compost food waste, which, Knighton said, was coming from sites such as the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome.
Knighton, along with other officials, said EPD had no direct communication with the county about the permit.
“I can only tell you, to my knowledge, there was not any direct correspondence from EPD to the county that food waste would be brought in,” Knighton said.
“There’s correspondence (with EPD) on certain issues. On this issue, there appeared there was not direct correspondence from EPD back to us. Now, they may have an explanation — I cannot speak to that.”
Messages left at EPD seeking comment were not returned Tuesday.
According to the county’s findings, the 137-acre site was originally zoned as a “construction/demolition and inert solid waste landfill” in May of 2002. A 2003 rezoning expanded the site by more than 13 acres that “were left out of the 2002 application.”
In 2007, the landfill applied to be a municipal solid waste transfer station — collecting waste inside the county and transferring it to outside landfills — but the request was denied.
Ken Cronan, the owner of the landfill and business partner with Gov. Nathan Deal, did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday.
The memorandum also stated there was excavation of the site this spring and the county “should have been contacted to ensure compliance.”
The county marshal’s office has since been charged with conducting “random visits and (continuing) to monitor activities on the site.”
Knighton said there is no timeline set for when that will end, but the county will “continue to monitor the site in the immediate future and beyond.”
The county also mandated “any correspondence from the EPD or other governing agency of landfill operations shall be provided from the property owner directly” to the county.
“That’s one of the things I placed in my memorandum ... to close that gap,” Knighton said.