Rome officials are working out plans to move the city's mulching operations next month to the property donated by GE near the intersection of Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle.

Public Works Director Chris Jenkins said the current site on Vaughn Road takes in about 15,000 tons of tree limbs, brush and other debris each year.

"But Rome doesn't own that property any more and we need to move by the end of the year," Jenkins told the Solid Waste Commission on Tuesday.

The site was included in the nearly 80 acres off Riverside Parkway that R.H. Ledbetter Properties paid the city $600,000 for last December.

Plans call for developing approximately eight acres near Turner McCall Boulevard with retail and put the rest in a conservation easement. Robert H. Ledbetter, Jr., said earlier this year that the market is slow and the company expects to seek Tax Allocation District financing before starting a project.

Rome Public Services Manager Kirk Milam said the mulch operation would likely be moved to the paved area in front of the GE plant, in the west parking lot.

The operation could be relocated later, Milam said, if a better spot is found.

For now, he said, the GE property is an immediately available and centrally located "stopgap measure."

The operation will be more visible than it is on Vaughn Road, and officials are working out ways to lessen the impact from the street.

"The goal is to site it in (deeper), to where it doesn't become a nuisance to the neighborhood," City Manager Sammy Rich said. "It could be there several years."

The property is zoned for industrial use but it sits off a heavily traveled commercial corridor. Additionally, the bulk of the city-owned tract is heavily wooded and is being used as a nature preserve with bike trails and hiking paths.

Jenkins said moving the mulching operation to the Walker Mountain Landfill would make it inconvenient for dropoffs by contractors clearing land and city yard waste collections.

The debris can't be dumped in the landfill, but International Paper Co. grinds it for free in exchange for biomass to burn in its boilers.