Landfill contract OK, state law seen as met

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

As predicted by some, Marshall County commissioners on Monday found Cedar Ridge Landfill expansion plans to be in compliance with state environmental standards.

The decision concludes a local decision process on whether the landfill west of Lewisburg should be allowed to expand again. A 10-acre expansion is underway. The next expansion is on 70 acres.

In another anticipated decision Monday, commissioners approved a new contract with Waste Management Inc. It increases payments from the company to the county for the privilege of burying garbage at Cedar Ridge.

"We're very pleased with the decisions," said Richard Cheney, director of business development and strategic planning for Waste Management Inc. in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

Nearly 100 people attended the commission's monthly meeting. Many appeared to be employees of Waste Management, and most of those wore stickers bearing the word "yes" surrounded by company colors.

During a 20-minute hearing before the commissioners' 6 p.m. meeting, advocates and opponents expressed often-heard comments, although there were more positive remarks for Waste Management's plans, notably support for recycling and the financial advantage of having more revenue from the landfill.

Commissioner Phil Willis seconded Commissioner Anna Childress' motion to approve expansion plans. The vote was 12-6.

That decision forwards the expansion proposal to the Maury-Marshall Regional Solid Waste Authority, which must approve the expansion as it relates to the regional solid waste disposal plan before it's sent to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for a permit. No meeting date has been set for the regional authority.

Commissioners unanimously voted to amend the new contract as proposed. As presented, the contract would have host fees paid by the landfill deposited in the county general fund. Commissioner Mickey King explained undesignated money in the general fund could not be spent on schools, roads and other departments' needs. As a result, King recommended the money - approximately $300,000 annually - be deposited in a special account.

The vote for the amended contract was 12-2 with Commissioners Don Ledford and Richard Hill voting no. Ledford has been consistent in his opposition to the landfill, explaining that was a promise to voters nearly two years ago. Hill raised technical questions about the contract. One was about a phrase that describes when the contract starts. It's to begin when there's an irrevocable approval by the regional board. If the board disapproves of the expansion, then the contract is worthless.

Voting for the contract were Commissioners John Christmas, Sheldon Davis, Reynelle Smith, Seth Warf, Phil Willis, Nathan Johnson, Tom Sumners, Dean Delk, Mike Waggoner, Rocky Bowden, E.W. Hill, Anna Childress, Barry Spivey, Mickey King, Kevin Vanhooser and Jeff Taylor.

Voting for approval of the landfill expansion plan as compared to environmental criteria under state law were Christmas, Davis, Warf, Willis, Johnson, Delk, Waggoner, E.W. Hill, Childress, Spivey, Vanhooser and Taylor. Voting no were King, Smith, Richard Hill, Ledford, Bowden and Sumners.