Tempers flair over landfill

The Rally against Mega-Dumps in Laurinburg last night was a great success; and the BOC meeting afterwards, quite interesting. Below the fold is the write-up in the Fayetteville Observer under the headline: Tempers flair over landfill.

The Fayetteville Observer reporter left the meeting before the Board returned from closed session. The Laurinburg Exchange article adds:

"Several citizens were allowed to address Commissioners after the Board returned from closed session but [BOC Chair] Willis had not informed them they would have the chance to speak during the meeting when he initially closed the public forum".

Fayetteville Observer 4/3/07

Tempers flair over landfill

By Allison Williams

LAURINBURG — With a bagpiper leading the way, people protesting a regional landfill marched to the monthly meeting of Scotland County commissioners Monday night.

But when they got there, Chairman J.D. Willis would not allow any of the protesters — who had registered in advance — to address the board during its public forum. Protesters booed and Willis threatened to call police.

“Throw them out,” one member of the audience called out, referring to county commissioners.

“If you don’t get out, we’re going to call police to come get you out,” Willis replied, banging his gavel as protesters shook homemade signs and printed banners that said, “No Megadump.”

Willis said that protesters would be allowed to speak when a public hearing on a proposed landfill is scheduled. The hearing had been set for Monday night, but when a state committee proposed more stringent landfill requirements, the county put the hearing on hold. Many people thought that the landfill was dead.

Waste Management Inc., said the new requirements would make a regional landfill in Scotland County too expensive to build. But protesters say Willis’ comments that the public hearing will be rescheduled proves that it isn’t over yet.

Protesters began the evening at a parking lot across the street from the county government building. They held a rally about an hour before the commissioners’ meeting began.

Speakers came from across southeastern North Carolina, many of them from communities that are fighting or have fought landfills. A large group of women arrived in matching T-shirts that read, “Citizens for a Safe Vibrant Community,” and carrying hand-lettered signs. The women fought a construction and demolition landfill in the small town of Sandyfield in Columbus County.

People came from Richmond, Duplin and Moore counties. Fred McQueen helped fight a proposed landfill in neighboring Richmond County.

He warned people in Scotland County not to be complacent because Waste Management has appeared to back away from the idea of building a landfill that would accept waste from six states and Washington. County commissioners are clearly still interested, he said.

“It’s not J.D. and the county commissioners that backed down,” McQueen said. “It was Waste Management that backed down.”

A March letter from Chairman Willis to Waste Management says, “If and when your company is prepared to complete the negotiations over the host agreement, we would be glad to reconsider the application for the preliminary franchise at that time.”

The idea of a landfill was first raised in 2005.

Proponents said the landfill would bring in much-needed revenue to a county with one of the highest tax rates in the state.

Opponents said the landfill would cause enormous environmental problems.

In July, the General Assembly passed a moratorium on building new commercial landfills. Some people thought that would mean an end to a regional landfill, but discussions continued.

Last month, the N.C. Division of Waste Management proposed guidelines that would require landfills to have two underground liners and expensive monitoring systems. Scotland County Manager John Crumpton said the changes would mean an extra $80 million to build the proposed regional landfill.

Again, the idea of a landfill seemed to be dead.

Bob Davis is co-chairman of Scotland County of Tomorrow, one of the groups protesting the landfill.

“They called this off once before,” he said, but the issue returned and he’s not sure it won’t happen again.

When Willis refused to let him or others speak Monday night, he said, it emphasized his point that the landfill is not dead.

Helen Livingston said protesters are celebrating some victories — the proposed guidelines for one — but won’t rest until changes are signed into law and Waste Management closes up shop in Scotland County.

“It’s not over,” she said.

Thanks to Targator for following this story in BlueNC since December 2005. Next chapters as they unfold ...



Glad to see this.

What is it about being a county commissioner with a gavel that turns people into total jerks.

Keep us posted? Thanks.