County mayor wants landfill answer

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Advised that more than 97 percent of the letters to the state about Cedar Ridge Landfill support expansion, County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett on Friday said. "There are a lot of people who want an answer, one way or another."

County commissioners have developed a short-term plan - including a $160 per year disposal fee - on what to do if Waste Management can't expand Cedar Ridge Landfill. Commissioners on the Solid Waste Committee are developing a long-range plan.

"We've been at this for years," Liggett said.

As for the state's examination of the landfill and expansion plans, the mayor said he hopes state officials have been "thorough."

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation was advised of a decision by Marshall County commissioners that the expansion plan complied with several standards for landfill operations. Thereafter, in November 2007, a regional solid waste authority confirmed that the plan conformed to the solid waste disposal plan for Marshal and Maury counties. The state officially started to examine the plan, but was stopped when Lewisburg's Council decided to weigh in on the issue, eventually agreeing with the county in November 2008. Thirteen months later, TDEC Commissioner Jim Fyke declined to issue a draft permit and set Feb. 8 as a deadline for public comments on whether he should deny the permit, grant it, or extend the comment period.

"The state has a lot of professional people working for them," Liggett said. "We're relying on them to make a sound judgment, whichever way it is."

As for the county's plans on what to do if the landfill must close because it has no more space permitted for trash disposal, the mayor said, "The plans are based on the options that are out there. The options are few. The committee has studied the options and has tried to come up with the best plan. There are just not that many possibilities."

Liggett also repeated his reasons for vetoing county commissioners 11-7 vote in 2007 that was to state that the commission believes landfill expansion plans meet criteria for landfill operations.

"That decision (to veto the commission's vote for the landfill) was based on the fact that the state wouldn't answer any questions about the landfill because there were unanswered questions about the water quality," Liggett said, recalling the circumstances surrounding the commissioners' 11-7 vote.

"We got the answers five days after the first vote was taken," Liggett said.

The commission overrode Liggett's vote for landfill expansion by another 11-7 vote.

"When all this went on," the mayor said, "the citizens spoke against (expansion.)"

During debate before the first 11-7 vote for expansion, he continued, "The group that didn't speak was the state... and they decided not to enter into the discussion because the water study had not been done."

Since then, the county started paying for a water quality study and Waste Management has used its results as a point when telling the state it ought to be permitted to expand.

Liggett's veto was issued with advice from then-County Attorney Lee Bussart Bowles.

"The veto allowed the state ... to come back and participate in a question-and-answer session for the commissioners," Liggett said. "We felt like that was the correct thing to do - a sound decision in this matter."