Done deal?

Friday, September 21, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Marshall County planning commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted against rezoning Waste Management property so the company might expand Cedar Ridge Landfill.

The planners' recommendation is to be considered by county commissioners Monday in the Courthouse Annex on Lewisburg's public square. Some close observers predict approval of the company's request to expand the landfill.

Former Commissioner Mary Ann Neill spoke against rezoning during the planner's meeting.

"It is objectionable," Neill said. "The reason you don't see more 5th District people here is because this is a done deal."

Planners recommended against changing the zoning code to create a path for Waste Management's expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill. Commissioners voted 11-6 on Aug. 17 to change the rules.

"You should put a little more pressure on the commission to not change it," Veryl Riddle of Mooresville Highway told planning commission chairman Ray Wakefield. "I don't think people in town know how close it is."

Riddle and Richard Holt of Old Columbia Road complained about crows and buzzards circling the landfill. Holt used to be a neighbor of William H. "Billy" Coble Jr. and his wife, Marsha, who sold 174 acres to Waste Management in December 2006 for $1,875,000. Now-former Waste Management spokesman Terri Douglas had said the company wanted the property to have an adequate supply of fill dirt to cover garbage.

Former Commissioner Wilford "Spider" Wentzel told planners Tuesday that Douglas told a "$1.8 million lie [because] you do want to put garbage on it."

Subsequently, Waste Management sought to develop a new landfill near Cornersville, a plan that was abandoned. The company is now focused on Cedar Ridge.

Nashville-based attorney Bill Penny represents Waste Management for the zoning request. Now that the zoning code is changed, it allows use of the 174 acres to be used as a landfill because the nature and location of the land fits the requirements of the code, Penny said. He didn't want to belabor landfill issues.

"There is really nothing else for the planning commission to look at," he said. "Does it meet the requirement? It does.

"We believe that there is no reason why the planning commission shouldn't grant the change," Penny said.

If planning commissioners won't recommend it, he said, then the company wanted a vote that night so the issue could be forwarded to county commissioners on Monday.

They didn't and it was.

County Commissioner Mickey King of Cornersville took another approach to the situation. If the rezoning allows Waste Management to join the 174 acres with 87 acres of the 207 acres that's now used for landfilling at Cedar Ridge, would that permit a wider base and therefore a higher landfill?

"We're just asking for a rezoning," replied Robert Cheney, director of business development and strategic planning for Waste Management in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.