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City drops authority over landfill

Friday, July 13, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Lewisburg councilmen have relinquished their authority to approve or disapprove landfills by a 4-1 vote.

"It's duplicated at the county level," Mayor Barbara Woods said Tuesday night while introducing the resolution.

"I have some reservations about this," Councilman Ronald McRady said. "The plans must be submitted for approval by the county and the city. It's our responsibility as a city to have input on this. No way this resolution is in the best interest of the citizens of this county and city."

No other councilman commented, and when the vote was called for, McRady was alone in saying "No."

Lewisburg's council obtained the authority to approve or disapprove a new landfill or expansion of an existing landfill in late May 2008. In doing so, it unanimously adopted the state law on how to judge a company's request for permission to develop a landfill.

That state statute, the Jackson Law, includes criteria to be used when judging a landfill plan as suitable or not.

Without the city's participation - that was relinquished with the vote Tuesday - Waste Management Inc. must now obtain approval from the county commission, a regional solid waste authority and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. It's substantially the same bureaucratic process faced by WMI for the expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill on property at the heart of the landfill.

Recently, Waste Management officials announced their plan for another expansion. That first requires a county zoning code change, and that's recommended by the county's Solid Waste Committee to the County Commission meeting on July 23.

Meanwhile, McRady was also the main speaker in City Hall on Tuesday with regard to council workshops. A workshop was held at 3:30 p.m. July 5, and McRady said he'd been told it was the first of a series to be held the week before the monthly meeting.

"I think that's redundant," he exclaimed. "It's a duplicate meeting at a time when no one can attend. To hold a meeting to discuss a meeting - that's not in the best interest of the people."

City attorney Steve Broadway was asked for an opinion.

"Work sessions are the equivalent of special-called meetings," he said. "You must have a specific agenda and stick to it.

"Some cities, like Shelbyville and Lebanon, have a work session to set the agenda for the regular meeting," Broadway continued.

"The regular meeting is for discussion," McRady said. "If you get the agenda the same day (right before a work session), there's no time to do research.

Woods defended the workshop.

"It's not to make decisions, it's to gather information so we can make a wise and intelligent vote. We were acting in what we thought was a wise manner."

McRady stated he would not attend workshops.

"I will not be a party to it," he exclaimed. He went on to say that if something had been discussed in a workshop, "it will be re-discussed" in the regular meeting.

Woods then moved the meeting along to other topics.

Councilmen unanimously approved a resolution to pay for a survey of Worley Cemetery.

Industrial Development Director Greg Lowe reported the Imperial Foods project was moving forward, and Heartfelt Home Accents has begun hiring, anticipating building up to 50 jobs over the next three to five years.

"It's time to get serious on the beautification of the I-65 Commerce Park," Lowe said. "We need to give it some curb appeal." He complemented Public Works Director Kenny Ring and "his boys" for the work they recently did to make Rock Creek Park look good.

Lowe said he was in the process of completing an application to the Select Tennessee Sites program, describing it as "risk aversion for site selectors." He said he thought Lewisburg would be accepted once the application was completed and submitted.

"I've seen prospects pick up," Lowe concluded, describing evidence of increased interest in Lewisburg and Marshall County.

A number of citizens were present at the meeting, but no one wished to say anything when citizen input was called for, and the meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.