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Georgia landfill case ends 15 years after landfill closure

It sounds like an odd combination of land use. There is a blueberry farm, cattle and homes on the acres of land near where a Georgia landfill once operated. That variety of land use didn't go on without a battle, though it sounds as though the environmental lawsuit is over.

One might be able to imagine land owners' concerns over having a waste dump site so close to the property that they live off of and care for. At least one family in Forsyth County didn't take what they saw as the contamination of their land by a landfill sitting down, not even after the landfill closed.

The landfill in question closed in 1999, and the plaintiffs filed suit against their county about six years ago. Plaintiffs own land right next to where the old landfill operated. They argue that the site wasn't closed down to properly protect the integrity and health of the surrounding wells and community.

Improper closure of a landfill can create water that is contaminated with hazardous bacteria. Though the county sticks to its claim that it followed proper procedure when shutting down the landfill years ago, it offered the plaintiffs a settlement of $320,000 if they would dismiss the Georgia environmental lawsuit. They agreed. The settlement requires the county to improve well locations in the area.

Cases like this are about more than money. They are about assigning accountability when land use regulations are not followed. They are about inspiring new and improved processes that will better protect the land and its inhabitants. Often, they are about parties finding mutually beneficial outcomes to a land use issue.

Source: Forsyth News, "$320K settlement ends landfill lawsuit," Alyssa LaRenzie, Jan. 10, 2014

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