East Ge­or­gia to pur­sue dam­ages, land­fill con­struc­tion

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - MERIS LUTZ mlutz@cov­news.com

The East Ge­or­gia Land & De­vel­op­ment Com­pany will move for­ward with its plan to con­struct a pri­vate land­fill and sue New­ton County for dam­ages re­lated to a le­gal bat­tle waged for more than 17 years.

The an­nounce­ment came Wed­nes­day just hours be­fore the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted to "elim­i­nate from con­sid­er­a­tion" Green Hill P3 as part of a tri­par­tite agree­ment with East Ge­or­gia, days af­ter Green Hill pulled the pro­posal.

East Ge­or­gia has fought the county since 1997 for the nec­es­sary com­pli­ance letters needed to ap­ply to build a land­fill on ap­prox­i­mately 424-427 acres it pur­chased next to the public land­fill on Lower River Road. In Oc­to­ber, 2014, the Ge­or­gia Supreme Court ruled in East Ge­or­gia's fa­vor.

Jim Baker, head of East Ge­or­gia, pro­vided The News with copies of letters sent to New­ton County Chair­man Keith El­lis and New­ton County's le­gal coun­sel Wed­nes­day in­form­ing the county of East Ge­or­gia's in­ten­tions:

"...New­ton County At­tor­ney Tommy Craig ne­go­ti­ated with Green Hill and a struc­ture and pro­posed agree­ment was ne­go­ti­ated; county at­tor­ney Tommy Craig stated this ne­go­ti­ated ar­range­ment would be rec­om­mended to the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers. Notwith­stand­ing the in­ten­sive and ex­pen­sive ne­go­ti­a­tions, East Ge­or­gia

has re­ceived in­for­ma­tion in the past six days, that the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers in­tends to ex­plore other op­tions, and that as a re­sult, Green Hill has with­drawn its pro­posal."

"As a re­sult of Green Hill's ap­par­ent with­drawal of its pro­posal in light of the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers in­ten­tion to pur­sue some al­ter­na­tive op­tion, East Ge­or­gia needs to ob­tain the com­pli­ance let­ter man­dated by Judge Ozburns' rul­ing and com­mit­ted by New­ton County at­tor­ney Tommy Craig."

East Ge­or­gia is de­mand­ing that New­ton County hand over the com­pli­ance let­ter or­dered by the judge in 2013. This let­ter should be handed over by July 10, 2015, or East Ge­or­gia will make the nec­es­sary mo­tions to seek com­pul­sion of com­pli­ance and pos­si­ble sanc­tions, ac­cord­ing to the let­ter sent to the county's at­tor­neys.

East Ge­or­gia also de­mands a let­ter stat­ing that East Ge­or­gia's use of its prop­erty as a san­i­tary land­fill is not con­trary to any validly adopted mul­ti­juris­dic­tional solid waste plan in ef­fect on June 25, 1997 (when East Ge­or­gia first sought a let­ter of com­pli­ance).

The let­ter claims that the county has de­layed or re­fused to is­sue the com­pli- ance letters, and as a re­sult, "the pe­riod dur­ing which East Ge­or­gia may re­cover dam­ages on its filed in­verse con­dem­na­tion claims is be­ing ex­tended."

In his let­ter to El­lis, Bak- er said that since Green Hill P3 has with­drawn its pro­posal, East Ge­or­gia "plans to move for­ward with its claims for money, dam­ages and other re­lief."

"We are highly disap- pointed that the set­tle­ment agree­ment which the County, East Ge­or­gia, and Green Hill P3, LLLP worked hard to con­sum­mate dur­ing the past 12 months has failed," the let­ter read. "I am hope- ful that these letters can be use­ful to us to po­ten­tially elim­i­nate the need for fur­ther lit­i­ga­tion. How­ever, East Ge­or­gia will pur­sue its land­fill en­deav­ors just as it has for the past 18 years."

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