Superior Court Judge David Cavendar ruled in favor of Bryan County’s ordinances regarding landfills in a lawsuit filed by Atlantic Waste Services against the county.
County attorney John Harvey announced the judge’s decision during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled Bryan County Commission meeting.
“Fortunately the judge granted our motion for summary judgment, finding that our ordinance is constitutional and that there is a rational basis for it,” Harvey told commissioners.
Summary judgment is a decision made on the basis of statements and evidence without a trial.
During the May 1 summary judgment hearing, legal representatives from both Bryan County and Atlantic Waste presented arguments. Harold Yellin, representing Atlantic Waste, told Cavendar the Pooler-based solid waste company was challenging section 1116 of Bryan County’s zoning ordinance regarding waste management districts.
Atlantic Waste Services challenged the county’s ordinances because the company wants build a 268-acre landfill on about 1,100 acres it owns in the Black Creek community in North Bryan.
Yellin claimed Section 1116 is unconstitutional in part because no piece of property in Bryan County meets the requirements to build a landfill. The county requires a 1,000-foot setback between a landfill and a water source, requires a landfill to be accessible from a state or federal highway and prohibits a landfill in any wetlands area.
Atlantic could meet the state’s requirements, which are less stringent. Georgia’s EPD requires only 500 feet between a landfill and residences and wetlands are allowed to be impacted in some cases. In addition, the state doesn’t require a landfill to be on a federal highway.
A copy of the ruling said after “having considered evidence and arguments submitted, this court concludes that the plaintiffs (Atlantic Waste) have not overcome the presumption that Section 1116 is valid and substantially related to the public health, safety and welfare.”
The ruling said “the county commission acted within its broad discretion when it adopted Section 1116."
Harvey told commissioners the ruling is “a good first step, but we’re not done with the case yet.”
Harvey expects Atlantic Waste to file an appeal, sending the case to the Georgia Supreme Court.