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County gives up legal battle against C&D landfill

Faced with multiple adverse court rulings, mounting legal costs and the ominous threat of the imposition of monetary damages, the Lamar County commission voted 3-2 Tuesday night to give up its legal battle against E.T. Carlyle Company’s effort to locate an unlined construction and demolition landfill on 312 acres off High Falls Park and Possum Trot roads in northeast Lamar County. Commissioners Nancy Thrash and George Brown voted against sending a letter to EPD granting zoning and solid waste plan compliance to Carlyle but noted their opposition was largely symbolic. ”Never have I been involved in anything so corrupt – where the will of the people has been so disregarded. I feel like a superior court judge is strong-arming me,” Thrash said. Commission chairman Jay Mattthews noted his frustration and that of his fellow commissioners. Thrash added that the commission had fought the matter, risking jail, but had to take into consideration all the taxpayers in the county. “We would have to raise taxes to pay monetary fines,” she said. ”I don’t care about going to the Lamar County jail. Hell, I need a break,” Matthews added. The battle dates back to June 2001 when Carlyle first filed an application for a special exception to site the facility. That came after the firm went throughout Georgia, studying zoning ordinances and targeting counties where such landfills were not specifically prohibited under zoning and solid waste ordinances, according to water quality activist Bud Queen. Over that period, the county has expended about $100,000 in legal fees and could have to pay the legal expenses incurred by Carlyle in addition to damages sought by the firm for delaying its project and diminishing potential earnings. ”We have exhausted every avenue of appeal…. Judge Smith said our zoning was invalid. He said they have a vested right to develop the property. That is a devastating ruling,” county attorney Scott Mayfield said. Now, the county hopes to derail the landfill in the EPD permitting process and has asked to be consulted and kept apprised throughout it. “The fact that they want to put an unlined landfill in a groundwater recharge area certainly works in our favor,” Matthews said. Carlyle also won its interim battle to site an inert landfill on the property and has cut timber and begun excavating there. Neighbors Jason Kidd and Marty Sewell said the company cut timber to its property line, abandoning promises made long ago to leave a treed buffer around the landfill area. Johnny Poore of the Lamar County Solid Waste Authority noted C&D landfills are currently on EPD’s radar screen due to the high cost of cleaning up the Scales Road C&D landfill in DeKalb County. ”It cost them $4.3 million to clean that up – the most expensive ever in the State of Georgia and they really didn’t clean it up, they just covered it up,” Poore said. For the full text of the county’s draft letter to EPD, For more on the Scales Road landfill horror story, go to and

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