Bibb zoning board denies permit for medical waste facility
A medical waste treatment operation was denied the permits it need Monday by the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission to build a facility on Fulton Mill Road.
MedSafe LLC had filed a conditional-use application with the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission that would allow a medical waste processing facility at 4280 Fulton Mill Road, also known as 4214 Fulton Mill Road. It also was seeking a variance. The applications were filed by W. Scott Wilson, who owns a Macon commercial a real estate firm. The company planned to used an autoclave to sterilize the medical waste.
Two of MedSafe’s owners, Ken Taylor of Milledgeville and Wilson, explained in detail how the medical waste would get to the facility, how it would be treated and its disposal. Taylor said the Environmental Protection Division imposes regulations on MedSafe and on the hospitals and medical offices about how to dispose of their waste. Also the Department of Transportation has rules about the trucks that pick up the waste.
The method MedSafe planned to use to process medical waste is by using a specialized autoclave that uses steam and pressure to sanitize and melt medical waste. The end result is a solid cube or rectangle of sterilized/sanitized waste. All water used “is clean coming in and clean coming out,” because it is sanitized along with the waste, Taylor said.
Even though Taylor and Wilson explained that the facility would be fenced and would be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, some commissioners questioned whether the site would be secure.
Also, commissioners questioned MedSafe about plans to keep truck trailers full of medical waste on the site up for possibly up to several weeks.
“If it’s something that needs to be treated immediately, it would be treated,” Wilson said. Both men said trucks currently sit for days or weeks at a time at medical offices around town now with medical waste in them until the truck is full. The waste is then transported to a treatment facility.
Taylor said they would not be actually operating the facility, and that all people working there would have to be approved by the EPD.
“I’ve got some good people who are qualified to operate it,” he said. “But I will be a large part of it.”
Several residents spoke in opposition of the facility — many who said they live adjacent to or near the proposed site. Their concerns included an increase in traffic, especially of up to eight tractor-trailers a day. Also, some residents were concerned it may lower their property values.
“A lot of people live in this area and they are deadly afraid of it,” said Mack Minton, who owns nearly 200 acres adjacent to the site. “I’m opposed to this facility.”
Minton said he had a prospective purchaser for his property but after hearing about the proposed medical treatment business, the purchaser wasn’t interested anymore. Minton also said that with the added traffic the roads would have to be improved and he questioned whether that’s something Bibb County residents should pay for with the company was “only supporting” five employees
“My main reason is economic,” he said. “I don’t want it to devalue my real estate.”
H.T. “Tom” Maxwell, who said he owns property directly north of the proposed site, said he already has to drive pass the dog pound to get to his property
“If I would try to put a subdivision in, ... now that you’re considering putting a medical waste facility in, how many of you would want to live next to (it) ,” he said.
When asked what plans he had for his property, Maxwell said, “right now I might be lining up six chicken houses right across the road from there. ... I’ll have cows over there within a month.”
Plans called the construction of a 10,000-square-foot facility to process the waste. The proposal also included a future 10,000-square-foot addition.
Commissioner Jeane Easom said she understands that every part of the process would be regulated, “but it does have houses around it.”
“I have to defer to the residents and how they feel about it as much as it may be legally allowed,” she said. “I’m sure it’s legal, and I’m sure it’s safe, but accidents do happen.”
MedSafe’s application had been deferred earlier this year by the commission and by the applicant prior to the March 27 hearing.
An earlier version of this story misspelled W. Scott Wilson’s name.