Green Hill P3 to con­tinue pur­suit of land­fill con­tract

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

De­spite be­ing voted out of the run­ning, Green Hill P3 or its mem­bers will con­tinue to pur­sue a con­tract with New­ton County to lease and op­er­ate the county land­fill, and set­tle a law­suit with the East Ge­or­gia Land & De­vel­op­ment Com­pany.

“We’re con­tin­u­ing to work on this pro­ject in New­ton County,” said Tee Stri­b­ling, lead pro­ject man­ager for Green Hill.

Stri­b­ling said Green Hill has ne­go­ti­ated with the county trans­par­ently and in good faith, hit­ting back at crit­ics who ac­cused the com­pany of di­vi­sive tac­tics dur­ing a spe­cial called meet­ing on July 1 when the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted to “elim­i­nate from con­sid­er­a­tion” Green Hill.

Stri­b­ling would not say whether the same par­ties would file another pro­posal un­der a dif­fer­ent name, say­ing those in­volved are “still try­ing to fig­ure out the next move.”

He also sought to clar­ify the re­la­tion­ship be­tween East Ge­or­gia and Green Hill.

Green Hill is a lim­ited li­a­bil­ity lim­ited part­ner­ship whose sole gen­eral part­ner, ac­cord­ing to the Sec­re­tary of State Cor­po­ra­tions Di­vi­sion, is Na­tional Man­age­ment

Com­pany Inc. The CEO of Na­tional Man­age­ment is James Baker, who is also the CEO of East Ge­or­gia, which is threat­en­ing to sue the county and pur­sue a pri­vate land­fill if the county does not agree to a con­tract with Green Hill.

Green Hill P3, which has been ne­go­ti­at­ing with the county since be­fore the Supreme Court’s rul­ing, had pro­posed leas­ing and op­er­at­ing the land­fill from the county. The county, in turn, would have used $8.5 mil­lion in pay­ments to buy back the plot from East Ge­or­gia, which would have re­ceived ad­di­tional com­pen­sa­tion from Green Hill through a com­bi­na­tion of cash and eq­uity in the com­pany.

In literature dis­trib­uted to the public and to the BOC, Green Hill has rep­re­sented RLS Con­sult­ing and In­vest­ment as its main backer, with no men­tion of Na­tional Man­age­ment.

Stri­b­ling main­tained that RLS is a part­ner.

Stri­b­ling said Na­tional Man­age­ment al­lows East Ge­or­gia to “con­trol” Green Hill “on an in­terim ba­sis” un­til an agree­ment is signed, but em­pha­sized, “there is no ques­tion about the fact that East Ge­or­gia and Green Hill are two en­tirely sep­a­rate en­ti­ties.”

In an email to The News, Baker wrote: "Green Hill is a Part­ner­ship and Na­tional Man­age­ment Com­pany, Inc. is the Gen­eral Part­ner of Green Hill as re­quired by East Ge­or­gia to pro­vide se­cu­rity un­til the TRI PARTY AGREE­MENT would have been fi­nal­ized at which time Na­tional would be re­placed."

Stri­b­ling said both the BOC and the county at­tor­ney were aware of the “gen- eral struc­ture” of Green Hill and that mem­bers of East Ge­or­gia were also mem­bers of Green Hill.

“The com­mis­sion­ers set in mo­tion a process that led to Green Hill be­ing formed,” Stri­b­ling said.

Com­mis­sion­ers Nancy Schulz and J.C. Hen­der­son said they were un­aware of Na­tional Man­age­ment Com­pany’s part­ner­ship in Green Hill, or any other di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween Baker, East Ge­or­gia, and Green Hill.

County At­tor­ney Tommy Craig told The News Tues­day he was un­aware of Na­tional Man­age­ment or Baker's role in Green Hill, say­ing that it had been rep­re­sented to him that RLS was the prin­ci­ple in the com­pany.

“It’s news to me,” he said, adding that he was “not fa­mil­iar with the in­ter­nal struc­ture” of Green Hill.

Com­mis­sion­ers Lanier Sims, Le­vie Mad­dox, and John Dou­glas could not be reached for com­ment.

When asked if he would con­sider another pro­posal from Green Hill or another com­pany with the same mem­ber­ship, Hen­der­son said the bid­ding should be open to “any­body and ev­ery­body.”

Mean­while, Craig said he was “fu­ri­ously re­search­ing” the county’s op­tions in re­sponse to East Ge­or­gia’s re­newed threat of lit­i­ga­tion af­ter the tri­par­tite agree­ment with Green Hill fell through.

In Oc­to­ber 2014, af­ter more than 17 years of lit­i­ga­tion, Ge­or­gia’s Supreme Court or­dered the county to hand over a zon­ing com­pli­ance let­ter to East Ge­or­gia, the first step in the com­pany’s pur­suit of a pri­vate land­fill on its large plot on Lower River Road.

East Ge­or­gia has also de­manded a sec­ond let­ter from the county stat­ing that a san­i­tary land­fill is not in vi­o­la­tion of the Solid Waste Man­age­ment Plan in ef­fect on June 25, 1997.

Craig said the sec­ond let­ter was “a more com­pli­cated mat­ter,” but de­clined to go into de­tail.

The county is ex­pected to re­spond next week.

File photo/The Cov­ing­ton News

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