Landfill change riles Lexington County leaders

tflach@thestate.comNovember 24, 2013 

TRACY GLANTZ — tglantz@thestate.com

— Lexington County leaders are upset with a landfill operator’s plan to expand material accepted at the facility.

Their dismay is at a move to turn a landfill in the town of Lexington that grinds trees and vegetation into mulch into a dumping ground for nonhazardous construction debris.

“This is a total shock,” County Council chairman Bill Banning said. “This thing was pulled over our eyes.”

The change promises to touch off another effort by county officials to crack down on a landfill on U.S. 378 they never wanted open.

State environmental officials signed off on the switch on what goes into the landfill, again telling county officials they have no control over disposal facilities inside municipalities. An appeal of that decision was rejected, setting the stage for a new legal fight.

Banning is angry, saying that ignores the waste management plan that state officials ordered the county to develop.

While not taking sides in the dispute, Mayor-elect Steve MacDougall said he is unhappy with the manner in which the landfill got the go-ahead for the change in what it receives. “I don’t like the way it was handled,” he said.

But another town leader isn’t bothered by the shift. “I don’t have any problem with it, not at all,” said Councilman Danny Frazier, who brokered the deal bringing the facility into the community.

Town leaders thwarted the county crusade against the landfill in 2005 in annexing it as part of a push to attract retail development by providing inexpensive dirt from the location needed to make other spots usable.

Taking in the landfill frayed relations among town and county leaders for years.

County leaders oppose allowing the site to take construction debris, arguing there are similar operations five miles away. In addition, officials say a landfill threatens on worse traffic congestion on U.S. 378, a thoroughfare for shoppers and commuters.

MacDougall wants to abide by county guidelines on location of landfills, which requires them to be 20 miles apart in largely rural areas.

County limits on such landfills were adopted after complaints too many were popping up near neighborhoods.

Town standards don’t limit what goes into the landfill as long as state officials approve and county standards are met.

The landfill adjoins the Lexington Pavilion shopping center, home of the local Target and other national retailers.

Landfill operator Karson Corley said the switch will enable the 100-acre facility to be filled much sooner with boards, used brick and similar items, allowing it to be redeveloped into a site for stores and offices.

Recycling vegetation is “hardly substantial,” he said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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