Jefferson leaders consider an access road behind McDonalds near I-85 an eyesore due to tractor trailers frequently parking there and the resulting trash left behind. Now they’re exploring steps to clean up what’s increasingly become a larger mess.
The issue coincides with Jefferson’s I-85 exit beautification efforts, for which the city council recently created a subcommittee.
“This is an important issue for the city,” Jefferson mayor Jon Howell said. “That subcommittee has some big and bold plans, and I’m looking forward to having that conversation.”
The city has been limited with its enforcement options to tackle the problem since the road is privately owned.
According to Joel Logan — a GIS manager for Jackson County invited to speak at the Jefferson City Council’s Feb. 25 meeting — the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) owns the majority of the road, while McDonald’s also owns a segment. But Logan said the DOT is willing to donate a portion of it to the city.
“Let’s get what we can and then go back and try to negotiate with McDonald’s,” Logan said.
The road does not yet have a name, though Logan said it will be named “Trade St.” for the 9-1-1 system.
The road also serves as access to part of the Jefferson sewer system.
Logan, who said he’s been concerned about the issue for several years, said the trash problem has worsened.
“It’s nobody’s fault here, but for a lot people who don’t live in the county, their first view of Jackson County, they pull off and get food or something right there, it looks horrible over there,” he said. “And in the past three or four years, it’s just gotten worse and worse and worse and worse and worse.”
Logan said he’s attempted to organize clean-up efforts through a local chapter of the Boy Scouts, but safety and sanitation issues have prevented that.
“My leaders are fearful of traffic issues and also, I hate to say it, but jugs of urine — truckers will typically use the bathroom in a jug and throw it out,” Logan said. “Their fear is that there’s a lot of that back there.”
The council is considering enforcing city codes against private-property littering as a potential remedy to the problem. Trucks parked along the side of the road could also present a public safety issue for fire trucks trying to navigate the road in the event of an emergency.
The city plans to meet with the DOT about deeding the land and contact McDonalds about the truck and trash issues.
Enacting eminent domain (a government entity taking over private property) was mentioned briefly as a last resort if the problem is not remedied.