County to buy land from BASF

Published 7:39 am Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Decatur County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to purchase nearly 800 acres of land located off U.S. 27 South from the BASF Corp.

According to Board of Commissioners Chairman Butch Mosley, the land commissioners are buying is located along the eastern edge of the county’s landfill off U.S. 27 South, which opened in 2008. The size of the tract is between 775 and 790 acres, according to different surveys, county officials said.

Under the terms of the sale agreement, the county government will pay $2,500 per acre, or approximately $1.9 million in total. The purchase will be funded by the county’s share of the most recently approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax; in approving SPLOST, voters allowed for construction and expansion of the U.S. 27 landfill as acceptable uses of the money.

Email newsletter signup

“We think this is a win-win situation for both parties involved,” said Mosley, who noted commissioners voted unanimously to purchase the land after holding a lengthy closed session to discuss the purchase of real estate.

When reached by phone after commissioner’s Tuesday meeting, Mosley said county commissioners had been negotiating with BASF, which has a plant near Attapulgus, for some time concerning the land sale and had finally worked out an agreement amenable to both parties.

The primary use for the land being acquired will be for future expansion of the landfill, there is also the potential for industrial uses, particularly on the portions of the land closest to Tallahassee, Fla., Mosley said. Although there are certain restrictions involved, there is the possibility of the county using what is now the U.S. 27 landfill for industrial sites once the landfill is capped and covered over, at some date in the future, the board chairman said.

Increasing the landfill’s life span

When the U.S. 27 landfill opened in 2008, it was estimated it only had a usable lifespan of about 20 years. Since then, the opening of a third cell at the landfill in summer 2010 and federal approval for an expansion of the original landfill has added more than 20 years to its lifetime, according to Steve Harbin, the county’s landfill consultant.

“This action will help ensure the future of this county,” Mosley said. “It’s a good long-term solution to several issues that might come up in the future.”

The land BASF is selling is wooded and filled with marketable timber that the county government can take advantage of when land is cleared, Mosley said. However, there is a stream running through the tract that will have to be environmentally protected, he said.

Revenue generated by the county’s landfills, particularly the new one, have been increasingly relied upon to help shore up county finances during the economic recession, when other forms of revenue have weakened. The new landfill makes about $2 million per year in revenue, largely due to the acceptance of waste from customers in the surrounding area, particularly in Florida.

Commissioners recently began a process to sell carbon credits associated with the burning off of methane gas at the county’s old landfill off Georgia 309 South. County officials have said creating revenue from carbon credits is also a future possibility at the U.S. 27 landfill.