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Ball Ground City Council unanimously struck down an application for a special use permit last week that would have allowed a solid waste transfer station to be placed on Howell Bridge Road, citing concerns with foul smells and other nuisances that could come with it.

The denial of Diamond Head Development’s request for a special use permit in the city’s light industrial zoning on Jan. 10 followed Council-man John Byrd’s report on a visit to a similar facility.

Solid waste transfer stations temporarily store local garbage after collection for compacting and future transfer to a landfill.

City Manager Eric Wilmarth said Byrd “took a field trip” to a solid waste transfer center and spoke to nearby businesses and property owners to get a sense of what factors to weigh in discussion with the council. When he shared his findings, Wilmarth said, the council agreed that the potential costs of placing such a facility in the city limits would outweigh its benefits.

“The proposal they put forth to the city was going to pay the city almost $40,000 a year to locate there. That comes close to funding a police officer,” Wilmarth said on Wednesday. “But when we look at big uses like this, you have to look at everybody that’s impacted, not just the city.”

He said businesses and residents in the area where the facility would have been placed were extremely concerned about the increase in truck traffic and the smell that would come from the location. Wilmarth estimated, based on the city’s research, that virtually all summer the smell would be a factor.

On top of all the concerns, Wilmarth said, the city does not currently have a heavy industrial zoning classification and would have to make changes to allow the facility to develop inside city limits.

“We already struggle with the issue of the Pine Bluff landfill, the odors that leave there and go over Ball Ground Highway and Sharp Top Mountain Creek … To add something that nobody can guarantee will not smell right up at the next exit, it’s just not a welcoming gate to the city,” he said. “I think these folks have a good business plan and intend to run a good business. This just isn’t the spot for it, especially when we would have to make changes to allow it to come.”

Wilmarth said no member of council was open to developing a heavy industrial zoning classification.

Ball Ground City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Ball Ground City Hall, 215 Valley St. in downtown Ball Ground.

Thomas is a government, business, crime and features reporter for the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger News. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University and currently lives in Kennesaw, Georgia.

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