Sams represents both the Bankhead C&D waste transfer station, which was cited by Cobb County’s community development department last month, and Celestino Venturi, who has filed a rezoning request asking the city of Kennesaw to allow for a pawnshop to stay in a strip mall he owns.
After receiving complaints about the smell of the waste transfer station from residents of the nearby Legacy at The Riverline subdivision, southwest Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson asked county code enforcement to look into it.
“The people were upset about it, so I asked the community development folks to do whatever they had to do,” he said.
The Bankhead site was cited March 23 for taking in household garbage without a proper permit. It is currently authorized only to take in construction and demolition material.
The nearby Stafford Trucking site was also notified about violations, including storing household garbage in trucks, but is not facing action because it cleaned up the trash in an allotted amount of time, county code enforcement manager Jerry Lanham said.
But the Bankhead citations caught Sams by surprise. The site is seeking approval from the county to rezone to heavy industrial and permit it to take in municipal waste. The planning commission recommended approving the requests for the 8.16-acre site in December, but a final decision from the Board of Commissioners was delayed until at least April 17, pending the results of a study by the Federal Aviation Administration that was called for because of the site’s proximity to Fulton County Airport at Charlie Brown Field and the threat birds gathering at the waste site pose to airplanes.
The site has taken in household garbage since 2010. Sams said its previous owners had received permission from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to take in additional waste, but failed to go through the process of adding acceptance of household trash to its land use permit with the county.
Sams said it is traditional for the county to hold off on enforcement action until a final decision on a pending case is issued by the planning commission and Board of Commissioners.
“That’s the way it’s been done for the 30-plus years I’ve been practicing law,” he said.
But Thompson said the matter couldn’t wait until a decision was made.
“I just didn’t want the people to deal with this during that period of time,” he said.
Lanham said Bankhead was eligible to face action right away because it had applied for a land use permit to take in household trash. The company has an arraignment hearing scheduled for Thursday in magistrate court.
Legacy resident Sheila Edwards said it is time to shut down the Bankhead station, located on Veterans Memorial Highway.
“This usage is too noxious and harmful,” she said. “Most importantly, it has been directly impacting our community each day it has been illegally operating.”
Sams said he filed a rezoning request for Venturi’s strip mall with the city of Kennesaw on March 26. The request seeks to remove pawnshops from the list of prohibited businesses at the strip mall Venturi owns at Cobb Parkway and Mack Dobbs Road. The owner agreed not to allow a pawn shop to open at the site when he sought zoning for it in 2004, but the city approved the opening of the Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan pawnshop at the location late last year.
“What we’re asking for is that the stipulation be changed for the duration of this particular tenant’s stay,” Sams said.
Kennesaw officials have admitted making an error in approving a business license for the site. The rezoning case is scheduled to be heard before Kennesaw’s planning commission on May 3 and the City Council on May 7.