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Atlanta Environmental Law Blog

The EPA warns of a dicamba drift

Most farmers know that the yields of any growing season are impacted by the vagaries of Mother Nature: too much rain, too little rain, excessive heat, unseasonably cold weather. This past summer, however, those growing soybeans and cotton saw their crops ruined by someone in close proximity: neighbors using the dicamba herbicide.

In attempt to eradicate Roundup-resistant pigweed from their fields, some farmers used dicamba, which then wafted over to neighboring land. In the past, those growing soybeans and cotton would avoid employing the herbicide as it kills the tip of the leaves and causes blistering and puckering on the surface.

Local zoning dispute leads to appeal

Previously, we began looking at the topic of zoning, and specifically why it is important to work with an experienced attorney in navigating zoning matters. One good reason is that, as we mentioned last time, administration of zoning laws in Atlanta is handled by several different groups. Navigating the process is not necessarily an easy matter, particularly when one faces opposition in zoning matters.

In some cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to seek relief in zoning matters, or to appeal a zoning decision. This is what a developer in the Atlanta area has recently done in response to the City of Brookhaven’s repeated denial of a proposed zoning change. The city has reportedly been working to decrease density for some time, and is doing so by denying requests for rezoning. 

Legal guidance regarding the use of asbestos? Yes. Here's why.

There are many differences between the development and construction procedures 50 years ago and the procedures today.

Up until just a few decades ago, for instance, asbestos was commonly used in the construction of buildings and homes across Georgia. The material was relatively inexpensive with fire-proofing qualities that were highly desirable in construction. But today, we know that exposure to asbestos can cause devastating illnesses.

For this reason, the way asbestos is used, handled and disposed of is strictly regulated by various environmental agencies.

Developers and those in the construction trade should take caution when asbestos is involved in any way.

Why work with an attorney when zoning issues arise?

Last time, we began discussing the topic of zoning and the impending update of Atlanta’s zoning codes. Zoning regulations can have a significant impact on both private residents and businesses in any industry, as they impact how land is developed, what uses land have, and the height, size, and placement of buildings on lots, as well as building density and number of parking spaces per building.

Administration of Atlanta’s zoning ordinance is in the care of several groups. First of all, there is the Zoning Review Board, a nine-member board appointed by the Mayor and City Council to consider property rezoning and special use permits. There is also the Board of Zoning Adjustment, a five-member body which meets two times per month to consider applications for zoning variances and special exceptions from the zoning ordinance. 

Atlanta zoning regulations to be updated in three to five years

Zoning is an important area of law dealing with land-use and development, and which impacts how local governments plan their layout and organization. Zoning law is primarily a function of local governments, but Georgia state law does have minimum procedures to assure the general public has due process when local governments exercise their zoning power.

Every local government responsible for zoning periodically updates its zoning rules to ensure they are still serving the needs of the community and are appropriate for the conditions and circumstances impacting the people. The City of Atlanta’s own zoning regulations haven’t been updated since 1980, and are certainly in need of reworking. And that is what will soon happen, according to recent news reports. 

Coalition to address problem of illegal dumping on Proctor Creek

Atlanta readers are familiar with Proctor Creek, which runs through downtown Atlanta and up to the Chattahoochee. Proctor Creek has a watershed which encompasses 10,600 acres, which impacts a great many people. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Proctor Creek has serious environmental challenges, including high levels of bacteria from regular storm water flooding and sewage overflows.

Earlier this month, the City of Atlanta announced the implementation of a new program aimed at cleaning up Proctor Creek, monitoring water quality and the installation of green infrastructure. In addition, the program will The program is noteworthy because of the diverse groups involved in the effort, including city planners, private investors, and environmental nonprofit organizations. 

Two potential developments in EPA drinking water regulations

Michigan grabbed headlines earlier this year for the high levels of lead found in many of its drinking water systems. While the Environmental Protection Agency is constantly updating, developing and reviewing its regulations, this alarming incident has led to renewed interest in updating national regulations on drinking water.

Here are a few things the EPA is doing right now to develop and/or review regulations surrounding the drinking water contaminants lead, copper and chromium.

Toxic Substances Control Act enforcement and citizen suits, P.2

In our last post, we noted that ordinary citizens can help enforce the Toxic Substances Control Act, at least with respect to certain aspects of the law. One major limitation on citizen suits, though, is that the law does not allow citizens to file a civil action if the EPA has already filed and is diligently prosecuting a violation of the law.

Even when the EPA is already on top of a violation, though, citizens do have the ability to intervene in the case. In order to file a lawsuit against an entity found to be in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act, notice must first be given to the EPA and the facility which is allegedly violating the law. Other conditions and requirements apply as well, and it is important for plaintiffs to be aware of these when pursuing a citizen suit. 

Toxic Substances Control Act enforcement and citizen suits, P.1

We looked briefly at some of the changes made to the Toxic Substances Control Act in our last post. As we noted, those who are harmed by violations of the law, whether well-established provisions or the new ones, should know of their right to hold responsible parties accountable, at least in some certain circumstances.

The Environmental Protection Agency is, of course, the primary party to enforce federal environmental laws. States are not allowed to enforce the law unless they have “look alike laws,” and no states have taken steps to enact such measures. The EPA generally relies on two different tools to enforce the law. These are the Notice of Non-Compliance or Notice of Violation and the Federal Facilities Compliance Agreement. Typically, these tools are used in conjunction to get facilities back into compliance with the law. 

Federal law regulating toxic chemicals receives update, P.2

In our previous post, we began discussing the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, particularly with respect to recent updates to the law. As we noted, the primary purpose of the federal law is to regulate the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products and manufacturing. Under the recent update of the law, a number changes were made.

These changes include: a new requirement that the Environmental Protection Agency identify and protect populations which are particularly at risk for toxic chemical exposure. Such populations include children, the elderly, pregnant women and workers. The changes also require the EPA to identify the hazards of high-risk chemicals and, when appropriate regulate specific uses of individual chemicals. 

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