Leader Blues

Saturday, February 23, 2008

TOP STORY > >Locals oppose landfill growth

Leader staff writer

Two Pine Landfill plans a 239-acre expansion of its facility, bringing the landfill across the North Belt Loop and closer to Hwy. 67/167 in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville resident Joey Price and others are against the idea because the dump would be near their homes in south Jacksonville.

“This will be a 24-year project that will bring 34 million cubic tons of trash to our front door,” Price told the city council on Thursday. “It will not be a good way to introduce people to Jacksonville.”

He also said a second landfill would violate federal highway beautification laws and cause flooding in nearby Dupree Park.

Price said that traffic count figures show more than 2.5 million cars a month drive through the I-440-Hwy. 67/167 area south of the city, and theexpansion will not shed any kind of positive light on to the city.

“That is the front yard of our city,” said Alderman Marshall Smith.

The company operating the landfill, Waste Management, has asked for a draft permit from the state to allow for the expansion. The public-comment segment of that process ended Tuesday.

“We turned in our objections on Monday and the state is well aware of our concerns,” Price said as he presented each council member with a binder that included the objection letter signed by about 140 residents, maps of the area, copies of federal laws that Price and others believe are being violated by the expansion, and other items related to the case.

Agreeing with Price’s concerns, Alderman Terry Sansing said, “This clearly contradicts what we are trying to do with our city and the image we want to project.”

Mayor Tommy Swaim was asked what steps the city could take. The mayor said this was a draft permit, and the company would have to clear a number of other hurdles before it could actually start the expansion. The city, he explained, could let its wishes be known during those steps.

David Conrad, a representative for Waste Management Inc., said the company was in a unique situation. “We already have a permit that allows us to use both sides of I-440 for our operations.”

He said that when I-440 was built, the state came in through the middle of Waste Management’s property, condemning what was needed for the interstate, but leaving company land on the north side of I-440.

Price said the plans for the expansion violate federal highway beautification laws that President Lyndon Johnson signed into law back in the 60s. Price was also concerned about flooding. The expansion into the lower lands north of I-440, Price said, would displace more water into Dupree Park.

Alderman Gary Fletcher was very concerned about this. “We’ve spent a lot of money, time and effort making Dupree Park one of our premier parks and now it’s going to flood more.”

Conrad said that plans called for the company to build a channel to collect the displaced water.

“But that water is still going to end up in the Bayou Meto with no place to go but Dupree Park,” Alderman Bob Stroud said.

“I just don’t like this idea at all,” Sansing said.

Conrad said he would be happy to come back and answer more questions the city has about the planned expansion.