|I am a staunch 'closed until further notice' with our next steps being that we are proactive when it comes to our environment. We owe it to the community, both residential and commercial stakeholders to be comprehensive in our standards, and we hold groups accountable for any harms. High hazard designations should be clearly defined, reporting should be transparent and accuracy should be incentivized.||
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East Cobb Cityhood
|When it comes to the current plan and agenda, my stance on this is issue is a solid 'No to East Cobb Cityhood'. While, cities can be the foundation of an identity, and a means by which economic growth can be expanded and fostered, they can also be a political tool to decrease the impact of changing demographics. Given that certain criteria are met, I am more than willing to entertain the creation of a new city.||
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The EPA released an intercative map indicating high levels of Ethylene Oxide (EO) emissions concentrated around the Sterigenics Plant located in the Smyrna area. Ethylene Oxide is noted as a carcinogenic air toxin. The county was aware of the plant's use of Ethylene Oxide as the company specializes in the production and distribution of downstream medical equipment which reuires sterilization before packaging. As an industry standard, sterilization is performed with ethylene oxide. The community, however, was unaware of the cancerous nature of the emisison levels, and after the levels became apparent, Sterigenics began engaging the comunity, although Sterigenics was aware of their issues prior. (Chicago has a similar incident). The plant was subsequently shut down, until testing can confirm emission levels are below toxicity levels.
Issue impacts: air quality, population health, reliance on services, property value, nearby schools, commercial and industrial viability
My Answer: "Closed until further notice. We need greater transparency & zoning guidelines"
I am a staunch 'closed until further notice' with our next steps being that we are proactive when it comes to our environment. We owe it to the community, both residential and commercial stakeholders to be comprehensive in our standards, and we hold groups accountable for any harms. High hazard designations should be clearly defined, reporting should be transparent and accuracy should be incentivized.The county government plays a major role in ensuring the safety and well-being of its residents and visitors. They do this effort in conjunction with legislative parties at the State Capital and Federal Agecies. When information was made apparent, Sterigenics lost faith and trust with the community. If we are going to have a vibrant community, we must make sure that accountability is a forethought and not just an afterthought.
The county and operating companies should have risk management protocols that pertain to hazardous air, water, and soil impact. For companies that have an environemntal impact, there must be a consideration for the company's ability to accommodate temporary restricted operations given a disaster. The county must also be prepared with proper regulations that are regularly tested. Also, in the event of a disaster, the county should have a plan already in place concerning how to move forward. This should accelerate the speed to which the community can return to a normal, healthy state.
Though Sterigenics has issued payment to reconcile this issue, GHD, an outside testing agency, has released a statement revealing that the company is not complying with EPA standards. Samples showed that there is variance in the quantities which means EPA standards are not being met. Some readings show much higher levels than the acceptable EPA concentrations. Most of the bills drafted also have a heavy focus on self-reporting. Testing should be shown in comparison to working standards and shown over a time distribution curve. Data should also be published as a part of open and interactive data records sourced independently from the company being measured. Zones and companies should be given an environmental score indicating progress over time.
We cannot continue to rely on reacting to the problems caused by rapidly changing industries. Without incorporating innovation (such as real time transparent monitoring), the standards will be inconvenient, outdated, and susceptible to corrupted reporting. It is important that we are proactive when it comes to protecting our environment, and seek ways to incentive good behavior - revenue, tax relief (investments), profit margin, public relations, and social programs. With policy regarding Sterigenics, we should learn more than the lesson of the day, but also guide the influences of the future.
In the Community
What does the community think?
“There is a companion bill in the senate that will likely have a hearing at some point. We NEED more of us to show up for these things. I'll get the recording of the hearing once it is available so that everyone can hear exactly what was said. It was incredibly frustrating.”
“Imagine how things would have continued if a journalist never reported on this and the community never got involved. It's disgusting we cannot depend on the politicians and agencies in place to protect us. We have to do the legwork and we can only do so much before it's out of our hands. Makes me so mad!”
“Remind them that our response started a year late because EPD had the EPA report and EPD felt they could decide what information to release. Information needs to be public and EtO should be an example for future hazards.”
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A group in East Cobb is seeking to create a new city called East Cobb. The proposed city includes areas to the east of I-75 and south of Sandy Plains (expanded see map below). Zip codes include: 30067, 30068, 30062, and parts of 30075. This group's rationale focused primarily on: the county's inability to provide adequate resources for policing, the appearance of roads and medians, and that some residents feel they are contributing more than their fair share to the tax digest for the services received. Therefore, this group initiated a feasibility study, through our state legislative representative Sharon Cooper, which was conducted by Georgia State.
My Answer: "No to East Cobb Cityhood"
When it comes to the current plan and agenda, my stance on this is issue is a solid "No to East Cobb Cityhood". While, cities can be the foundation of an identity, and a means by which economic growth can be expanded and fostered, they can also be a pathway for a group to decrease the impact of changing demographics. The following reasons define my justification for my position. Given that the following criteria are met, I am more than willing to entertain the creation of a new city, but to this date, none of the following have been met.
What I am Looking For:
The feasibility study conducted by Georgia State falsely assumed that new City of East Cobb would be able to avoid double taxation, thinking the city would reimburse for policing efforts. The new city would have to do both: pay towards the county's general fund and support their own police and fire services. This assumption was key to the feasibility of the new city, and thus, unravels the likelihood that a new city would actually by fiscally feasible.
Given the boundaries of the city, one must not just focus on supporting the current services, but also the projected services and other trends. The proposed city limits have a large elderly population which confines the short term economic health of the prospective city. Another thing to note is East Cobb's lack of commerce or industrial centers. The economics are primarily based on wealth held by retirees or long-time residents. There are no economic bases that go beyond property taxes.
We must take consider the motives of those proposing city hood. Who are they? Have other members of the community been engaged? Why is the proposal being pursued? In this case, the boundaries are eerily similar to that of the District 2 County Commissioner’s, an area highly impacted by the changing political and socio-economic demographics in Cobb County. The rationale of those commissioning the study seem to not lend to a real solution. Creating a city may offer more control, but may not actually solve the identified issues, especially given the cost assumption (see above). Since the proposal does not solve the aforementioned issues, this criteria is not met either.
In the Community
What does the community think?
“Until they provide positive reasons for city hood, continue to oppose it. We need less bureaucracy, and smaller Gov’t, not more. And while I live in the excluded Pope district, so may not have a vote, note the glib comment by David Birdwell: “It could be added now or through annexation,” cityhood leader David Birdwell said. At which point we would be sucked into the city without much say. People, this is a play for power by politicians so there are more places for them to “serve” us, and for developers who will start high density development that has damaged other areas in the metro. A hammer looking for a nail.”
“I agree, lets see what it is all about, then weight the pro’s and con’s. The City of Buford has great schools, a lot of businesses and a safe community. All without a police department and all the extra fat that comes with most City’s. Let not fear of the unknown hinder your judgement. Be productive, laws can be created to protect any fears. I know the powers to be want to legalize marijuana and apply 50% of the sales tax to help offset the City property tax. They say we should get a reduction of 30-45% in property taxes. I would like to see the study that was done on this.”
“It appears they presented an expanded territory with absolutely no proposal relative to a budget or tax implications. Is it possible the financial implications can get any more misleading?”
“At first, of course. But then they WOULD find a need to raise taxes. It’s what governments do. I have a vital interest in this, because we are in the process of moving into this area. There is nothing lacking in the present level of service. Why is another level of government needed?”
“Can you provide any meaningful list of beneficial effects this would have on the citizens who would come under this new city? Why would we do this at all? Listed in the article above are some “soft” benefits, but no specifics. And we already have those covered very well by the County. – local control (what does this mean beyond what we already have with Cobb County)? – enhanced police and fire services (We already have Cobb Police and Cobb Sheriff and Fire and I have no complaints about their high level of service) – better road maintenance (again, what does “better” mean. Money has to be spent for “better” and it has to come from somewhere, and I have no issues with current road maintenance) -expansion of the East Cobb Government Service Center (not a reason to form a city). There are many more questions – including how we justify ANOTHER layer of government, yet say costs and taxes won’t go up. Sorry, we need a lot more information and a lot of discussion before this makes any sense at all. Can we follow the money, please???? Just who/what group benefits from this being imposed???”
“Public Safety would go down. The city is planning on staffing fire stations with part time firefighters. Notice there is no mention of staffing levels or compensation for the fire department. Also it does not discuss the cost of police cars for 145 police officers. CCPD has take home cars for almost all of its officers. The report also discusses the purchase of fire stations, but says nothing about the trucks, equipment, supplies, and interior furnishings.”
“Do current cities in Cobb, “break up neighborhoods”? Local Control… Right now west cobb, and 6 other cities in Cobb can vote for East Cobb to get high density housing. We have no cops in East Cobb… It’s almost comical. Sure they come when you call, but patrols through neighborhoods, traffic enforcement is weak at best. Better roads… We need sidewalks, we need updated intersections. I’m all for East Cobb building a square/City Hall much like Sandy Springs/Roswell did. Lots of people benefits… So what? What’s so crazy and follow the money about the 2nd most populated town in Georgia becoming a real city?”
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