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Transfer station denied third time

LAWRENCEVILLE - A third attempt to build a waste transfer station in southern Gwinnett has been denied.

Local leaders lauded the decision as a vote for redevelopment in the region, even as an attorney for the company wanting to build a trash depot on Button Gwinnett Drive said he would recommend a second lawsuit be filed against the county.

"We think their actions were unlawful," attorney Doug Dillard said. "We think politics interfered with the decision."

Federal Road Transfer Station and Advanced Disposal Services has been trying to build a waste transfer station in the county for more than three years. In addition to the Button Gwinnett location that was denied Tuesday, county commissioners have rejected other possible locations for the transfer station at Goshen Springs and Jones Mill roads.

If the Button Gwinnett location had been approved, it would have resolved a lawsuit filed in 2004 after the Goshen Springs denial.

But Commissioner Bert Nasuti, who represents the area where the station would have been built, said he decided the use was too intense to warrant rezoning the area, which has a number of light industrial uses, for heavy industry.

Nasuti said he spent more than 10 hours in meetings about the depot and visited a south Atlanta transfer station before making his decision.

"The garbage trucks and traffic was a very non-stop, intense type of use," Nasuti said. "It's not quiet trucks coming in. It's trucks that can be smelled."

Chuck Warbington, the director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, said he thinks the decision to deny the transfer station is good for the county.

"It's a vote for revitalization of the area," he said. "It showed it's not the place for it."

Warbington also said the 3.5-acre tract was too small for the proposed business.

Joe Foltz, an attorney for the fiber-optics company OFS, said previously that allowing the transfer station to go through would halt a deal to create a mixed-use project on the property of the scale of Atlantic Station downtown.

Tuesday, he said he expects to continue moving forward on the deal.

"It had been in suspense pending this decision," Foltz said. "Now, we're able to go full speed ahead. I foresee things coming together very quickly."

Foltz said he had tried to find other locations for the plant that were already zoned for heavy industry, and had shared that information with Dillard. Those tracts have more land, Foltz said, and are further away from Interstate 85, but are also more removed from nearby neighbors.

Dillard said most heavy industrial land is near residential property, something he didn't think was appropriate for the proposed transfer station. He doesn't expect to apply for another rezoning, he said, instead letting the courts decide on a location. The first suit is in discovery at Gwinnett Superior Court.

The transfer station is particularly important in the county because Gwinnett is not allowing any more landfills, Dillard said. The stations serve as a central location for garbage trucks to consolidate their trash, allowing for less travel. That means less air pollution and wear and tear on streets, he said.

Another waste transfer station, this one on Humphries Way between Buford Highway and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard near the DeKalb County line, will be on the planning commission agenda in October. Warbington said another one has also been proposed.

"It's a statement to look at this really closely," he said.

Nasuti said in his experience, waste transfer stations work best in more rural areas than those near I-85 and DeKalb County. He said he voted to deny all three of the locations proposed by the companies.

"Successful ones are located in areas that don't have a whole lot of neighbors," he said. "They need a location that's not near much of anything."