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Residents can still comment on trash study

LAWRENCEVILLE - Some comments have already come in on the county's proposed solid waste plan, including one from an attorney alleging that Gwinnett's plan to consolidate trash pickup providers could be illegal.

Residents will be able to discuss the plan, which would divide the county into eight garbage service areas, at a public hearing Monday.

But in a Wednesday letter to county commissioners, attorney Edwin Saginar said Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful's plan to allow single providers control of up to three districts could be illegal.

"It appears logical that not too far off in the distance in time, under this proposed ordinance, perhaps only three companies will be licensed to collect waste in Gwinnett County," Saginar wrote. "How could such a limitation on competition be of benefit to a Gwinnett County citizen?"

Saginar, who is representing Red Oak Sanitation, threatened an antitrust lawsuit in his letter. He said the new standards could create barriers to entering the trash collection market and would drastically raise the cost of doing business.

Saginar also accused the county of asking one of the large bidders to participate on an advisory board, giving that bidder an advantage in the process.

A representative from the county's law department did not return a phone call seeking comment on the letter.

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful director Connie Wiggins said she had not seen a copy of the letter and could not comment on it because it threatened litigation. However, Wiggins said Red Oak Sanitation was involved in several meetings about the proposal and had to sign a letter acknowledging that the company was aware of potential changes before it could be approved as a collector for 2007.

"We provided a letter notifying them the system was going to change," she said. "From everything we have seen, this will make the system more cost effective for everybody."

Currently, there are eight companies providing waste pickup in the county. Wiggins said the eight districts were divided so that some smaller companies would have the opportunity to bid alone or with another company.

The proposal says there can be no fewer than three providers to avoid a monopoly, Wiggins said.

As of Friday afternoon, Wiggins said she had received about 60 comments on the plan, most of them in favor of it. Residents can submit comments in writing through 5 p.m. Monday in addition to speaking at the public hearing that night. The county's Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on the proposal Tuesday afternoon.

SideBar: If You Go

What: Public hearing regarding the proposed solid waste management plan

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville