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Landfill issue raising a stink

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
The future of Hartselle's inert landfill has again emerged as an issue of concern for the city's elected officials.
At a city council work session Monday night Mayor Dwight Tankersley gave a status report on the 70-year-old waste disposal facility and offered five options for consideration.
He said the landfill will be filled to capacity in 47 months at the current level of use based on a February 2005 volumetric study done by Civil Solutions. The cost to operate the facility last fiscal year was about $160,000. It produced tipping fee revenues totaling about $183,000.
Options identified were: Change nothing and close the landfill when full; eliminate customers to extend its life and close when full; expand the landfill; eliminate customers, expand the life of the landfill and expand when full and; build a landfill in a new location.
Tankersley reported it will cost approximately $350,000 to close the landfill and another $2,500 per year to maintain and monitor it. If that happens he said the city's inert waste, excluding grass clippings, tree limbs and leaves would have to be disposed of at the Decatur-Morgan County Landfill in Trinity. The tipping fee, $26.00 per ton, would have to be passed on to residents.
Valley View resident Will Lipsey, who strongly opposed the previous administration's efforts to acquire adjoining land for a future expansion, told the governing body he and his neighbors don't want a landfill in their back yards and will fight to prevent that from happening.
"We don't want the value of our property destroyed," he stated.
He also said he doesn't think the landfill should be operated to generate revenue.
"Tax money from the people of Hartselle ought to be used to support it just like it supports the police department," he stated.
Tankersley said the life of the landfill could be extended by 18 months if commercial haulers such as BFI and Waste Management are not allowed to use it. The waste they haul represents about 37 percent of the total amount of waste being disposed of at the landfill and generates about $80,00 a year.
He pointed out that the city doesn't need a landfill to dispose of clean yard waste. But it would need land to put the waste on and a chipper that is capable of producing a useable product.
Ernie Slaten told the council he would consider selling the city a 75-acre tract of undeveloped land adjoining the landfill if it chooses to pursue an expansion. When asked to quote a price, he declined but indicated that it would be high.
A 64-acre tract of the adjoining property was tested in 2003 and found meet existing Alabama Department of Environmental Management and U.S. Corps of Engineering criteria for landfill use. It was appraised at $2,000 per acre.
Tankersley said he entered the discussion without a predetermined position.
Council member Mark Mizell said he looks at the issue as being a question of what kind of a town the people of Hartselle want, a landfill or a bedroom community?
"I don't see the possibility of going somewhere else to start a new landfill, Maybe we just need to fill up the one we have and haul out waste somewhere else."
"We've got a big decision to make," said council member Samie Wiley. We need to look carefully at all of the options."
"I recommend that the mayor do the research, get with Will (Lipsey) and the property owner. Let's see what our options are."