Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Archdiocese, Mission File Suit To Block Waste Station

Published March 5, 2009

On Feb. 3, Gwinnett County commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a rezoning and special use permits allowing the solid waste transfer station to be built, even though the county Planning Department and Planning Commission had recommended that the requests be denied.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said that the archdiocese regretted having to file a legal action but felt that all attempts to work with the county had been fruitless.

“Everyone involved in this process—the local church, the community, the surrounding businesses—agrees that the Shackleford Road site is not a proper location for this operation,” the archbishop said. “We ask that the commission prayerfully reconsider the impact on the community and take action to reverse their decision to place a solid waste station adjacent to a church.”

Father Francis Tuan Tran, administrator of the mission, who came with a thousand of his parishioners to several public hearings to oppose the project, agreed.

“We conduct services at our church seven days a week,” he said. “The noise, smells and traffic will disrupt our services. We have invested millions of dollars in converting a vacant property to a church and a center for religious education and parish activities, and we have a multi-million dollar expansion in the works. Asking our congregation to practice their faith next to a trash operation is wrong. We are disappointed that the Gwinnett County Commission overlooked these factors.”

The mission has 4,000 members and Father Tran said about 800 children come to the church regularly for Mass and faith programs.

The archdiocese contends that the proposed waste operation, called a “solid waste transfer facility,” would involve several hundred garbage trucks per day running in and out of the property, where the garbage and other materials would be transferred to larger trucks for transport to a nearby landfill.

The suit, which will be filed in Gwinnett Superior Court, alleges that the county’s action was a “manifest abuse” of its zoning power. In addition, the suit alleges that the county’s decision to locate the trash operation on this particular property was unconstitutional because of the way the county treated the Vietnamese church.

The owner of the property, Lancaster Enterprises, who sought the rezoning, is also named. The suit alleges that the operations on the property would create a nuisance under Georgia law, urges that the rezoning of the parcel be overturned and that the court enjoin all solid waste operations on the property.