Landfill hearing ordered
Judge Sweat dismisses Sweet City suit, but says county must hold hearing
In a two-hour hearing Thursday morning, retired Superior Court Judge David Sweat of Athens said he would grant Elbert County’s motion to dismiss Sweet City Landfill, LLC’s July 5 lawsuit, but as a part of the order to be drawn up by opposing attorneys, Sweat said he wants the county commissioners to grant a hearing to Sweet City within 120 days.
The hearing would allow Sweet City to apply to the county commissioners for a Special Use Permit to build a landfill in Elbert County.
The permit is needed by Sweet City to apply to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which would consider the environmental worthiness of Sweet City Landfill’s plans.
The suit, which identified as defendants all current county commissioners, former county commissioners Frank Eaves and Harold Reynolds individually and in their official capacities as commissioners.
Sweat, an administrative judge called in for the case because Northern Judicial Circuit judges recused themselves, rejected Sweet City’s claims of a “conspiracy” which Sweet City said began at a July 2012 commissioners meeting when Eaves said the commissioners met before a landfill hearing and determined the commissioners would “knock this landfill in the head before it ever gets started.”
The lawsuit said the commissioners violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act, but attorneys representing the commissioners said the statute of limitations on those violations had expired.
Before court was adjourned Sweat asked Sweet City Landfill attorney Michael Mayo and attorneys representing the county – Brandon Bowen, Tim Buckley and Derrick Bingham – to draft an order on an agreement to hold a special use permit hearing for Sweet City Landfill within 120 days.
“They have been waiting on a hearing for six years,” Sweat told the county’s attorneys.
There was discussion about whether the hearing would be based on Sweet City’s original application for a special use permit, since Sweet City’s plans have changed over the past six years.
But Bowen told Sweat that he believed the attorneys could come to an agreement on how the county could allow a permit to be applied for.