Trash Plan: Nonprofit struggling to survive
GCB seeks mediation to settle garbage plan

LAWRENCEVILLE - The county's ongoing court battle resulting from the now defunct trash plan continued in the form of a status conference Monday morning in Superior Court.

At that hearing, an attorney representing the nonprofit Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful said the organization has been "decimated" as a result of the December preliminary injunction granted to garbage haulers Southern Sanitation, Sanitation Solutions and Republic Services, which was formerly Robertson Sanitation and Allied Waste Services.

That injunction kept the county's new trash plan from taking effect Jan. 1 and kept the status quo in place as it relates to residential trash pickup service. It also meant the nonprofit couldn't administer the county's solid waste plan.

The decision is currently being appealed by both Gwinnett County and GC&B, but as a result of the decision the county terminated its contract with GC&B, who's since vacated its office in the county's annex building and been asked to vacate the recently reopened Recycle Bank.

"It's been a cold and dark winter for Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Services," said its attorney T. Michael Tennant. "GCB had 25 employees in December before this started and now they have six. In June it will be four. As a nonprofit, we're asking for relief."

Tennant also stated that the relationship between the county and GC&B was officially over Saturday.

As it stands, besides the preliminary injunction which is being appealed, the county and GC&B are also being sued by the two haulers who would have benefited from the now invalid solid waste plan by servicing half of the county's homes each.

Waste Pro is suing both the county and GC&B for $40 million as is Advanced Disposal Services. Waste Pro's case was recently transferred to Gwinnett County from Fulton and Advanced is suing in federal court. It appeared that those proceedings could be preventing this one from moving forward.

To speed things along, Tennant told Judge Michael Clark that his client would be willing to dismiss the appeal if the plaintiffs would be agreeable to mediation. Gwinnett County's attorney said the same.

"We've got nothing left," Tennant said. "We don't have a contract with the county and even if we win the appeal we don't have a contract."

Attorney and former Gov. Roy Barnes, who represents Southern Sanitation and Sanitation Solutions, said it wasn't the goal of his clients to have GC&B "out of business." But he did take a shot at the lawyers for GC&B and the county who green-lighted the now invalid plan in the first place.

"The lawyers should be accountable," Barnes said. "Everyone who's looked at this case has said it's illegal."

Judge Clark agreed that it was in the best interest of the county and GC&B to have the matter resolved as quickly as possible, and said he was agreeable to mediation if all the parties involved could also agree.

"It (mediation) seems like the intelligent thing to do," Clark said. He also said he felt good about his ruling in December.

"I feel confident I got it right," he said.