The question of whether a transfer station opens in Statham is headed to a lawsuit, as far as city officials are concerned.
Officials, and attorneys, with the company involved aren’t commenting.
Roll-Off Systems, a waste handling and recycling company and producer of dumpsters, has bought property in the Statham Industrial Park where it planned to operate a transfer station.
Those plans have come to a halt, based on comments from Statham city officials.
“We will not be issuing a permit until told to by a (judge),” Mayor Robert Bridges said at the work session Thursday. Bridges repeated that comment at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Randy Gordon, the city’s planning and zoning administrator, said Friday, “We’re going to let it go ahead and go to court.”
Douglas Dillard, attorney for Roll-Off, has not returned two calls to his office. Calls and emails to Simon Garrett with Roll-Off Systems also were not returned.
The latest salvo between the city and company was a “supplement to grading permit application for transfer station at 1960 Statham Drive,” the company submitted Thursday, the day of the work session.
It is a response to several conditions Gordon said the company should meet before a grading permit is issued.
One of those conditions said, “all reference to transfer station in verbiage and/or design must be removed from plans before permit is issued.’
The company did not comply and said it “has acquired a vested right under Georgia law to use its property for a transfer station and therefore the site development permit necessary to prepare the land for such lawful purpose must be issued.” Dillard’s letter last week also said, “Demand is hereby made that you issue the requested permit as submitted to you in a timely manner.”
If the city does not issue the permit, the letter said, the company will “seek all legal relief available.”
Plans for the transfer station ran into a roadblock when landowners of adjacent property learned about it.
Statham council passed a motion “to approve the transfer station in Statham Industrial Park” on a 4-0 vote May 19, 2015. Perry Barton made the motion and Betty Lyle made the second. Council member David Huth was absent.
The city issued a timber harvesting permit for the property May 26, 2015, and the company bought the property that day for $200,000.
John Stell, attorney in Winder, represents property owners in the industrial park. He also said he represented Barrow County in an earlier lawsuit with Roll-Off. That involved a plan to build a transfer station in the county.
He told the council the city’s zoning for the industrial park land did not allow for a transfer station. He said the Statham plan would have similar problems that the proposal in Barrow County had.
The city’s zoning did allow for a “recycling station,” Stell said, but “a recycling station is not a transfer station.”
Robert Wall, who owns Cable East in the industrial park and who organized the landowners, said the covenants for the park preclude a transfer station. The covenants are in effect until 2020, he said.
He said the landowners are organizing a group that will take over the covenants sometime in 2017. He said those covenants can be extended 10 years to 2030.
Among the other landowners who spoke before council were David Headlee, Premier Marketing, and Scotty Thurmond, Oconee Foundations.
Both objected to waste being collected on the site. The two said it would degrade the value of their property.
At the council meeting, Headlee said Roll-Off’s plan for the property would not benefit any business or resident of Statham.
Nicole Baker and Kendra Sextion both referred to council’s May 2015 vote in favor of a transfer station.
Sextion referred to it as a “mistake” and a “bad decision.” Baker told council “being careless in decision-making can hurt all of us.”
Wall presented a letter from Daniel Wheeler, vice president of Stag Industrial to council Tuesday night. The company is the landowner of the former Keebler plant in the industrial park.
The 250,000-square-foot building is adjacent to the property Roll-Off Systems bought.
In the letter, Wheeler said the company has “strong opposition” to the transfer station.
He said the transfer station would “have an acute effect on our future efforts to lease vacant space at our building at 1965 Statham Drive.”
He ended the letter by saying, “the risks associated with the transfer station are very realistic, and not just hypothetical or overblown.”
Pressed on whether or not permits have been issued, Bridges repeated, “I done promised you that we’re not going to issue no permit. I don’t know what more you want.”