Landfill opponents pack hearing

Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Green 'Stop the Landfill!' T-shirts were in abundance at Tuesday's hearing on the proposed landfill.

Nearly a thousand Marshall and Giles county residents cheered, whistled, whooped and applauded their friends' testimony to Marshall County commissioners during a state-required hearing on a proposed landfill at Cornersville.

"It's a big company trying to move in on a small town," said Rita Calloway Stafford who's originally from Cornersville, but who traveled from her home in Washington State to testify. She received sustained applause for sticking up for land she still owns there. "I don't want to see it ruined," she said.

Thirteen of the 18 commissioners were present. Their reaction appeared to range from muted to outright awe of their constituents who packed the Lewisburg Middle School auditorium.

"I liked it," Commission-er Mickey King of Cornersville smiled. "It was good."

After the third speaker received sustained applause, County Commi-ssion Chairwoman Mary Ann Neill suggested the crowd hold its applause until the end, but she was rebuffed with choruses of "No, no."

Even so, the two-hour hearing was over half an hour before the building had to be closed. Speakers were applauded as they walked from the stage and cheers stopped when the next arrived at the microphone. Neill called out speakers' names so they'd be ready. While the crowd wasn't much different from those at a Friday night high school football game, testimony went beyond simple opposition without explanation.

Alternatives were offered, criticism of Waste Management's proposal was extensive, and professional advice was provided on why commissioners can vote against the proposal on May 22 when the company's plan is to be compared to state standards.

One typed page and a simple diagram are what Waste Management filed as its plan for a landfill, said Drew Goddard, a Nashville-based environmental attorney speaking for David Smith, a large land owner in southern Marshall County.

A sketch and a page of words are inadequate if it's to be compared to the eight criteria set forth in state law on what to consider ...Pick up a copy of today's edition of the Marshall County Tribune for full coverage and photos.