February 21, 2017 Comments Closed

Councilman joins chorus of opposition against Waco landfill site

Posted by:Adam Voight onFebruary 21, 2017

Original article by J.B. Smith of wacotrib.com

A growing movement against a new landfill in the West Highway 84 corridor has gained an important ally: Waco Councilman Jim Holmes.

Holmes told the Tribune-Herald this week that a landfill would hamper the quality of life and growth prospects for the area, which he represents.

The Waco City Council hired a firm in August to design and permit the new landfill on a 270-acre tract along Old Lorena Road, adjacent to the existing landfill, which would close sometime in the next decade.

Adjacent landowners have sued the city over the landfill plan, saying it would violate their 1992 agreement with the city that the current landfill would not be expanded.

Holmes said his main concern is the incompatibility of the landfill with ongoing development.

“Twenty-five years ago, that was only Harris Creek and a lot of pasture land, and it probably seemed a logical place to put a landfill,” he said. “Now there’s SunWest, Riverside, Hidden Valley, a lot of really strong, vibrant neighborhoods in close proximity, and it doesn’t make sense to put a landfill there in 2017.”

Holmes plans to meet with the West Highway 84 Neighborhood Association about the issue at 7 p.m. March 2 at Harris Creek Baptist Church, 401 Stageline Drive. Association President Nathan Embry said he expects 100 to 200 people.

“A lot of folks I’m hearing from haven’t had a lot of opportunity or voice in this issue,” he said. “It seems like the system is bypassing them. It’s raising some passion among people who live out here.”

Brad Holland, a physician who lives in the Twin Rivers neighborhood, has emerged as a leader of the opposition, starting a petition that has garnered more than 400 names.

Holland said he bought his house six years ago with the understanding that the existing landfill would be reclaimed.

“We were told the landfill was going to be full, that it was going to be green space,” he said. “we had something to look forward to. Now we’re told they’re going to expand its use.

The new site would be only 0.75 miles from Holland’s home.

“They say it’s not an expansion, that it’s a new site,” he said. “That sounds like someone trying to sell you snake oil. It’s not a forthright and honest appraisal of what they’re going to do.”

Mayor Kyle Deaver said the council is scheduled to discuss the landfill at a work session March 7.

Deaver said the Old Lorena Road site is well-suited for a landfill, but he would be willing to expand the scope of the landfill study to consider other sites.

“There are significant geological advantages to using that location, from a watershed protection standpoint,” he said. “Obviously, it’s also close-in, and that helps with the cost of transporting garbage. But I understand the neighbors’ concerns, and we are going to ask the staff to give us some options and let us know the cost difference. That’s what we have to look at: What is the cost to all our citizens? I am concerned about any increase in garbage fees.”

Deaver said there is some urgency in finding a new site, because it takes five or six years to permit a new one, and the current landfill has only eight to 10 years of life left.

Holmes said he would like to find a new site that’s reasonably close to Waco but that would not tarnish any neighborhood’s quality of life.

“I think it’s incumbent on the city to come up with a Plan B,” he said. “I know it’s an economic issue, that ostensibly it costs more to put a landfill somewhere else, but I’d like to get more granular information about that.”

Deanna Leach, who is running against Holmes in the May 6 general election, said she’s still learning about the landfill issue but also wants to consider other locations.

“I’m always concerned about environmental impact, and that certainly could be an issue,” Leach said. “Also, I feel like if the city made an agreement not to expand the landfill but is now building a landfill next to it, that seems like semantics to me.”

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