Saturday, April 12, 2008

TOP STORY > >Landfill hearing Monday

Leader staff writer

After three public presentations in Jacksonville, the owner of the trash dump at the city’s entrance will again face residents’ questions at a meeting in the Jacksonville Community Center at 6 p.m. Monday.

Joey Price, who owns 50 acres of land near the landfill, said he thinks Waste Management is acting responsibly by appearing in public to respond to Jacksonville residents’ concerns with a bigger landfill. He has talked to his neighbors to let them know about the expansion.

“It is very important to have a good attendance at this meeting to let them know that Jacksonville cares about our community,” Price said in an email he sent to his neighbors. “Waste Management plans to attend the ADEQ public meeting,” David Conrad, director of landfill operations at Two Pine, said. “We look forward to any and every opportunity where we can interact with people wanting to know more about our landfill.”

The Arkansas Departmentof Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will hold the informal public meeting Monday night in Jacksonville on the application for an expansion of the Waste Management-owned Two Pine Landfill.

In February, ADEQ held a public-comment period on the draft permit to expand the landfill by approximately 144 acres at the intersection of Hwy. 167/67 and I-440.

The Monday meeting is not considered part of the public-comment period.

ADEQ and Waste Management reps will discuss the permit application that asks the state to approve a dump nearly three times the size of the current one. If approved, Two Pine will become a 240-acre site capable of holding 34.4 million acres of trash for 24 years.

The expanded dump would be within 1.5 miles of the community center in the 100-year flood plain.

“This expansion will be detrimental to the future growth of Jacksonville,” Price wrote in email he sent to Jacksonville residents.

The landfill will approach Dupree Park and homes on the south side of Jacksonville. The landfill is also near Indianhead Lakes in Sherwood and North Lake subdivisions in Jacksonville and the Rixie area south of Jacksonville.

During the public-comment period, neighbors of the existing trash dump told ADEQ that a bigger dump would depreciate real estate values.

New homes planned for construction will be within 500 feet of the expanded dump.

At last month’s city council meeting, Alderman Bob Stroud said Dupree Park would flood even more than it does now if the landfill is allowed to grow.

Waste Management contends that flood channels have been approved by FEMA and that rainwater is directed to storm-water basins and analyzed by a third-party source before it is discharged into Brushy Creek and Bayou Meto.

At the upcoming Monday meeting, staff members from the ADEQ’s Solid Waste Management Division are scheduled to discuss the proposed permit and answer questions.

“After the agency issues a final permit decision in the matter, any persons who commented on the proposed permit during the public participation process will have legal standing to file an appeal of the permit decision, ” according to an ADEQ press release on the meeting.

Doug Szenher, ADEQ spokesperson, said only “persons who had previously commented on the draft permit during a designated comment period which expired in February would have legal standing to appeal,” Szehner said.

“It is our understanding that this additional public meeting will provide citizens with yet another opportunity to learn about our state-of-the-art landfill, including its many safeguards and the landfill gas to energy system,” Conrad said. “It will also allow the public to learn more about our work with Audubon to improve and restore wetlands areas.”

Conrad spoke Thursday to 12 members of the Jacksonville chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) about the planned expansion.

“It went real well,” president Jeanie Tillman said, noting that she was impressed with Conrad’s presentation on the landfill.

She said she approached Conrad after seeing his presentation before the Jacksonville City Council meeting last month.

It was the second time Conrad was before the city council in an informal presentation of Waste Management’s plan.