A proposal to lease and operate the Newton County landfill put forward by Green Hill P3 earlier this year effectively died Friday, but the company says it will propose an alternative agreement with input from the community.
Green Hill announced that it was pulling its proposal from consideration while it prepares a new one. The decision comes ahead of a special called meeting Wednesday where the Board of Commissioners is expected to vote down the proposal.
"There was a process that was set forth and we were just looking for an opportunity to explain our proposal and the changes we had worked out," said Tee Stribling of Green Hill, referring to a citizen solid waste panel that was formed to study the issue.
Last week, Commissioner John Douglas moved to schedule an up-or-down vote on Green Hill's deal while the panel continues to meet.
Four out of five commissioners said Friday afternoon that as far as they were aware, the vote would go forward as scheduled.
“I want to officially vote it down,” said Commissioner Lanier Sims of the original Green Hill proposal. He suggested that Green Hill would be welcome to submit an alternative proposal, as the county will be talking to multiple companies going forward.
Sims said his objection to the deal was based on concern for the community and the financial impact on the county.
“It has to at least break even,” Sims said, adding that under the original proposal would still see the county paying.
Commissioner Levie Maddox also said that to his knowledge, the board would vote Wednesday.
“The only thing we have that we can consider is the proposal that was presented and went through legal,” Maddox said. “My guess is the board is going to reject not Green Hill, but the Green Hill proposal.”
“The ‘version one’ proposal is not acceptable,” he added. “There are other companies that are already interested and have totally different business models.”
The Ministers’ Union and several members of the Johnson family, who live near the landfill in the Springhill community, urged the county to consider the amended proposal, which includes a new park in the area and a non-profit administered by the community.
Charles Johnson, who initially opposed the Green Hill deal, said that the company has made changes to its plan to meet community needs while the county has offered nothing.
“What are the alternatives? We have no other alternatives and Green Hill has stepped in and given us a proposal for the community and for the county,” said Charles Johnson. “Why would the community itself believe that if [the landfill] goes back to the county, they are going to do what they are expected to do?”
The Johnsons and representatives from the Ministers’ Union suggested that the county has neither the will nor the funds to address the groundwater and air contamination at the landfill. They said they would be open to considering proposals from other companies.
“We already know and we have already accepted that the landfill is not going anywhere,” said Reverend David Johnson. “If we’re going to be stuck with this landfill, and we got a company that’s going to come in and fix the problem and give us something to go along with them coming in, then that’s our best offer.”
“This is all we have; we’re not going to get nothing from the county,” he said.
The Green Hill deal still faces opposition from many local residents and environmentalists.
Commissioner J.C. Henderson, who has repeatedly said he would vote down the Green Hill deal, said he was waiting to hear more information.
“I think the community are the same ones who said they didn’t want it, but now they tell me that they want us to support the Green Hill proposal,” said Henderson. “For me, it’s about what the people out there want.”
Commissioner Nancy Schulz said the board would move forward with the Wednesday's vote.
“I would have to look at that proposal; it would have to be good for the whole county,” Schulz said of Green Hill’s intention to amend the proposal.
“There’s no question that the Springhill community is affected, but the entire county is affected,” she said. “We have to do what’s in the best interest of all the citizens.”
Douglas could not be reached for comment.