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North Hall man sees big picture around proposed landfill
Opponents rally as zoning board denies request for South Hall project
Glenn and Susan Hamilton are to build an inert landfill on their property off McEver Road in South Hall, but residents and environmentalists are against the proposal, which goes before the Buford City Commission on Monday.

Buford City Commission

What: Proposed landfill on McEver Road, across from Blackberry Lane

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Buford City Hall, 2300 Buford Highway

Glenn Hamilton of North Hall would like residents “to look at the big picture” when considering his proposed inert landfill in Buford.

“If they did, it would be more pleasant to them,” he said, adding he would someday like to see the landfill turned into a public park.

So far, the response hasn’t been favorable. Crowds have turned out in big numbers at two Buford Planning and Zoning Board meetings to protest Hamilton’s plans to turn the wooded property off McEver Road in South Hall into a dump for discarded tree stumps.

With the board’s denial recommendation of a special-use permit April 18, Hamilton is hoping for better results when the matter goes before the Buford City Commission for final approval Monday night.

For Hamilton, the public’s harsh response has been hard to digest.

Opponents “don’t want to listen, they can’t see it and don’t want to hear it,” he said of his plans during an interview last week.

The businessman began in 1989 as an asphalt paving contractor. As that work slowed, he started working as a residential grader, clearing lots to get them ready for home construction.

That work means taking down trees and the challenging chore of removing and disposing stumps.

And the way Hamilton sees it, “there’s no place to take stumps close by. You have to haul them to Gainesville or toward Doraville.”

“For anybody who starts building (homes) in the Buford area, homeowners are going to (have to bear) additional costs” because of the longer haul, he said.

Also, residents concerned the landfill would be an eyesore “would have a hard time seeing this thing,” Hamilton said. “I (would) have 40-foot-tall trees 100 feet deep (into the property).”

Robert Perkins of the Buford planning board wasn’t convinced. He said that Peachtree Industrial Boulevard/McEver Road, a main artery skirting the city, “is not designed for stump dumps ... or landfills that you can ride by and see.”

“You can put them 20 miles off the road — that’s OK,” he said.

A March 2 report to the city from Suwanee firm McFarland-Dyer & Associates, which evaluated Hamilton’s proposal, recommends denying the permit.

“The application did not include detailed procedures for the disposal operation ... as to prevent air, land or water pollution, public health hazard or nuisances,” the report states.

The firm also cited “adverse impacts to nearby properties.”

“Traffic, odor, dust, erosion, methane mitigation, noise and rodents are concerns that support denial,” the report states.

And Dale Caldwell, headwaters watershed protection specialist with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, has said his group’s biggest concern is the landfill would be about 7,500 feet from Buford’s water supply on Lake Lanier.

“No matter how this project is developed, there are potential impacts,” he said.

But Hamilton sees the property’s future differently.

“If this is approved and once this is full — or pretty much level with the road — I was going to donate the property to the city of Buford as a (park),” he said. “That’s $2.5 million worth of free property that can be best used as a dog park, Frisbee park, soccer fields.”

He said he realizes the city’s approval is just one hoop to jump through. He also would have to abide by state environmental regulations.

Chad Hall, manager of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Industrial and Municipal Solid Waste Unit, agreed.

“We don’t have an application for this site yet, so I can’t make specific statements, but there would be no free rein (on how the property could be used),” he said.

He said the state has standards for inert waste landfills and that such operations “must be designed by a professional engineer registered to practice in Georgia.”

If the landfill is not approved, Hamilton said he would consider his options.

Eleven of the property’s 26 acres are zoned as manufacturing, “which means I could put an asphalt plant there,” he said. “It’s the harshest zoning there is to get.”

For Hamilton, the bottom line is “something is going to happen (on the property). It’s not just going to sit there anymore.”