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County hears opposition to waste facility
Nevils citizens speak against proposed landfill at recent Commission meeting
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    A proposal to locate a landfill near Nevils has residents up in arms, and two concerned citizens spoke against the idea during a Bulloch County Commission meeting Tuesday.
    Charles Warnell has approached Bulloch County Planning and Zoning regarding possible construction of a  solid waste management facility on a 1,266 acre tract on Nevils-Groveland Road, and citizens have already met to plan opposition of the proposal, said Nevils-area resident David Hodges.
    He told commissioners 60 concerned citizens met Monday about the landfill, and the group's decision was "Basically, we want to oppose this landfill."
    Wetlands are adjacent to Warnell's site, and the soil is sandy and would leach contaminants into the nearby Canoochee River, he said.
    Having a landfill in the area would increase traffic through Nevils, cause littering from debris spilled from trash trucks, and cause more noise and foul odors in the area, he  said.
    Citizens also fear Warnell, if his landfill proposal was
successful, would sell the property to someone else, and that the nearby railroad (also owned by Warnell) would lead to bringing in waste from other areas besides Bulloch, Bryan and Evans counties.
    Hodges suggested the county move toward "mandatory recycling" and deny Warnell's proposal, should it be approved by Planning and Zoning.
    Hodges gave commissioners copies of notes he made outlining citizens' concerns, which included decreased property value and overuse of roads not designed for heavy traffic and equipment.
    Linda Smith, founder of the Ogeechee/Canoochee River Keepers, also spoke in opposition of the proposal,  telling commissioners the land is uphill from  the river, and very close, and contaminants would reach the river.
    Even if liners were used, they break and leak, and mercury levels are already high in our rivers, she said.
    "Mercury in a landfill is  ... ( found) in its most toxic form — methylmercury," and evaporates, then condenses and falls into the water, she said.
    There are already recommended limits to eating fish from these rivers, and mercury contamination can lead to health issues, including mental issues for children born to parents with high mercury levels in their systems, she said.
    "Of all choices (of places) to put this landfill, I don't
think this would be a wise choice," she said.
    Smith shared with commissioners a letter written by Ogeechee Canoochee River Keeper executive director Chandra Brown, which was sent to J. Paul Sansing, a planner with the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center, outlining problems the rivers already have that would be made worse if a landfill were located nearby.
    In the letter she identified the Canoochee and Ogeechee rivers as being listed as "impaired waterways" due to the excessive mercury levels, caused mainly by air pollution. She also referred to the danger of mercury leaching into the ground water from landfills, where discarded household products containing mercury (thermometers, electronics, compact fluorescent light bulbs) would be found.
    In the letter, which contained points Smith elaborated on during her brief speech to commissioners, she also referred to the danger to adjacent wetlands, including property that is part of a 100-year flood plain. She also noted the area is home to several endangered species — the Eastern Indigo Snake, Wood Stork, and gopher tortoise.
    After hearing from Smith and Hodges, Bulloch County Commission Chairman Garrett Nevil thanked them and said " We will certainly regard what  you have told us."

Other county business
    Terry Reeves and Billy Hickman, representing the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce, gave a presentation to county commissioners asking the county to help fund a study by the Carl Vincent Institute regarding the feasibility of consolidating city and county government.
    The Statesboro City Council agreed to fund up to $20,000 for the study, Reeves said.
    However, Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch recommended the commission table the decision, as agreeing to the move would require a budget amendment and would mean taking the money from the fund reserve.
    "It would be premature to vote tonight," he said, and asked Reeves to secure a " scope of work" and additional information from the Carl Vincent Institute.
    Reeves asked commissioners to consider that advocates want to start the study soon, and told Couch no money is needed immediately, only a commitment.
    "We'll try to get that on the agenda just as soon as possible," Nevil said.
    Commissioners also voted to move ahead with applications for grants to replace a part of the navigation system at the Statesboro-Bulloch Municipal Airport and taxi way improvements.
    The grant for the navigation system part would secure $85,500 from federal funding, with a state/local match of $2,250 each, he said.
    The taxi way restoration grant would secure federal funding of $95,000, with a stale and local match of $2,500 each, he said. After a motion by Commissioner Roy Thompson, the vote passed unanimously.
    "These are the type of deals we like to look for," Thompson said.
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.
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