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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Questions arise about Chatham landfill vote

Posted by on Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 3:55 PM

  • Source: Flickr Creative Commons - D'Arcy Norman
At least one Chatham County official is questioning whether a vote taken earlier this week on a new landfill was premature and curtailed public input.

Earlier this week, Chatham County Commissioners Brian Bock, Walter Petty and Pamela Stewart voted to postpone indefinitely the search for a new landfill.

"I would have liked to have held the community meetings to give the opportunity to citizens to have their questions answered and to hear their direct concerns,” said Commissioner Sally Kost, who was absent from Tuesday’s vote due to health issues.

She did not anticipate that the commissioners would vote so quickly.

County officials had scheduled four public hearings over the next three weeks. Of the nine sites on the short list, six were in communities that opposed a landfill, but community members from sites near Goldston and Bear Creek townships had not spoken against it.

Kost is troubled that her fellow commissioners circumvented including the Solid Waste Advisory Committee in their final decision.

Dan LaMontagne, director of the Waste Management department, told the Indy earlier this month that the commissioners would decide on whether to approve a local or a regional landfill. However, he reportedly did not expect the vote to happen Tuesday, either. LaMontagne could not be reached for comment.

During the 18-month search for a landfill site, the Solid Waste Committee hired engineers Richardson Smith Gardner and Associates, Inc., who released the 2009 Waste Feasibility Study. The study cost Chatham $49,952.

According to the feasibility study, the county had hoped to save $148 million—$195 million over 40 years if it built its own landfill.

“Before I could have supported such a vote, I would like to have known the financial implications and what it means in terms of the site selection process,” said Kost. “I think it would have been best if we could have narrowed the sites down further, but this is what the majority of the commissioners wanted.”

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