Landfill passes outside analysis

Published 3:35 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

An outside engineer’s report gives a passing grade to a proposed landfill in Conecuh County, although the evaluation does note that “negative emotional issues remain,” regardless of any benefits from the project.

But county commission attorney Richard Nix has cautioned that the commissioners do not have to approve the project simply because the report was positive.

On Monday, commissioners did not take any action on the landfill project, but commission Chairman Wendell Byrd thanked the public for its participation in a hearing seeking comment on the landfill last week.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Thursday hearing drew hundreds of people, the overwhelming majority of them against the landfill.

“I want to thank our citizens for the way they conducted themselves during the public hearing,” Byrd said.

The engineers’ report, compiled by Engineering Service Associates of Birmingham, evaluated the Conecuh Woods application based on criteria from the state and from the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan.

The plan gives a total point value of 37 to the application; 28 points are the minimum considered acceptable under the Conecuh County Solid Waste Management Plan.

The evaluation gave the highest rating — 4 — to these criteria: accessibility to major transport arteries and amount of existing traffic.

“The proposed site has excellent accessibility to a state primary road and federal highway and interstate,” the evaluation states. “The site also has the potential for railroad access.”

But the evaluation gives the lowest score — 1 — to the criteria involving the number of households along local access.

“On state road 41, there are 55 households along the 10.5 miles between Interstate 65 and U.S. 84,” the evaluation states. “These households would be impacted by increased truck traffic to the proposed facility.”

Criteria receiving a score of 2 include cost and availability of public services and any improvements required; cost per ton-mile of solid waste transport and perceptions of facilities’ impact on local economy and local property values.

“Surrounding land use is commercial timber production or farm/pasture and should not be impacted,” the evaluation states. “There are few households or sensitive facilities in the immediate vicinity of the facility. Local roads are lightly traveled and landfill traffic will not significantly change this assessment, though the vehicle makeup will tilt increasingly toward heavy trucks. The applicant proposes to provide generous buffers and setbacks to minimize aesthetic concerns, odor and dust problems; and the proposed technical design features should adequately protect the environment, public health/safety and social resources.

“The local economy should see positive impacts from increase employment. Should additional industries be attracted to the area, the landfill would be a plus in recruitment. However, this facility is a landfill and negative emotional issues remain that may not be assuaged regardless of the merits.”

The evaluation states that the siting of the landfill and safety measures in place would follow the health and safety requirements of the Solid Waste Management Plan.

“The measures should provide adequate protection to public health and safety as they are consistent with past successful landfill practices and are in accordance with ADEM regulations,” the evaluation states.