Oct. 6, 2017 – Bethel Baptist Church of Dora’s church picnic was ruined by flies that frequent the area because of a waste transport business, the Rev. John Foles told the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday.
“I want you to imagine a roadkill that has flies all on top of it, and them being very aggressive,” he said to a packed commission chamber. “That’s what we had to endure for over an hour. We threw food away. It’s not just the flies, it’s the aggressiveness of hundreds and hundreds of flies.”
The flies – and the smell – with which residents of West Jefferson and the like have dealt prompted the overflow crowd to applaud when commissioners denied a request by Sumiton Timber Company and Sky Environmental to change the zoning on a 4-acre property on Snowville Brent Road in Dora.
Sky Environmental has been transferring waste from trains to trucks and then transporting that waste to a landfill in Adamsville. The property is zoned for a pulpwood yard only, and the company sought to change that zoning to permit the legal continuation of its business there.
Mark Parnell, an attorney representing many of the West Jefferson residents who opposed the rezoning, cited three concerns. He said there have been multiple spillages of waste from the trucks. All of those spills, he said, occurred within the West Jefferson police jurisdiction.
“It’s one thing to offload pulpwood there,” Parnell said. “It’s another thing to offload sewage from New Jersey.”
One woman who spoke at the hearing described driving over a jelly-like substance with black stuff in it. Once she got home, she said the substance “smelled like she had run over a corpse.”
Attorney Jesse Evans spoke on behalf of the landowners and Big Sky Environmental.
“This is about land use and what is good for the community as a whole,” he said. “Our client operates a landfill about 12 miles away from this site. All this railyard is used for is the unloading of canisters.”
After the commission denied the request, Commission President Jimmie Stephens spoke to the audience.
“That does not solve your problem,” he said. “That stops the non-compliance issue at the railyard. That’s what was before the commission today. That other, you need to get with these folks and try to work something out or we’ll see you again when they come back.”
Commissioners were dressed in AtoB T-shirts as part of the campaign to lure the nation’s second Amazon headquarters to Birmingham.
“Washingtonian rated everybody’s marketing plan so far and Birmingham was rated No. 1,” Commissioner David Carrington said. “My attitude has always been, if you don’t swing the bat, you won’t hit the ball so we’re swinging the bat.”
In other matters:
- The commission approved a request from Hoar Construction to change the zoning of a parcel in the Eastern Valley area from agricultural to light industrial to bring the company into compliance and to allow for the expansion of the existing contractors yard.
- A lounge license was granted for Green Lantern Restaurant and Lounge on Old Tuscaloosa Highway in McCalla.
- Commissioner Sandra Little Brown read a proclamation recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
- A resolution was presented recognizing the 40th anniversary of Ruffner Mountain. A celebration of that anniversary is set for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 21.