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Defeat of landfill plan leaves Harnett budget in hole

Posted September 27, 2011

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— While Harnett County residents cheered the decision against a zoning change that would have allowed a regional landfill to open, county officials saw a steady revenue stream dry up.

Sandhills Environmental had planned to convert a 370-acre former sand mine off N.C. Highway 24/27 between Cameron and the Johnsonville community into a regional landfill. The county Board of Adjustment held six hearings and heard 26 hours of testimony on the issue before voting 3-2 Monday night to reject the company's application for a special-use permit.

Residents of the nearby Carolina Seasons subdivision fought hard against the landfill plan, saying truck traffic, noise and smell from the facility would lower their property values. They also argued that the landfill would pollute area streams and drinking water.

"We really took time to educate ourselves," resident Lisa Gilmore said. "It was heart-wrenching at times. You really didn't know what to expect."

Some Harnett County leaders saw the sand mine as a way to plug a hole in their finances. The county needs money for roads and schools, they said, and a landfill would have shoveled in $2 million a year in fees.

"That revenue could have done a lot of things for Harnett County," said Tim McNeill, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners.

Harnett County landfill opposition sign Harnett scrambles for revenue after landfill plan rejected

Enrollment in area public schools is up by 440 students this year and is expected to continuing growing as both Fort Bragg and the Triangle grow, McNeill said. The county needs $146 million to build new schools in the future, he said.

Area voters already have rejected a quarter-cent local sales tax increase three times, and residents have loudly opposed any property tax increases, he said.

"People have rejected several things up to this point. I'm willing to listen to any other option," he said.

Matt Kirkpatrick, managing director of Burlington-based Sandhills Environmental, said the company met the burden of proof that their landfill is safe. Company officials haven't decided whether to appeal the Board of Adjustment's ruling, he said.

Gilmore said residents will work with county officials on finding other sources of revenue.

"If we need to do more, we need to do more," she said. "We don't need to accept trash for money."

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  • lonestarrodeo Sep 29, 2011

    Above continued: make a dent in what we need for schools. Harnett Co actively recruited soldiers to make their homes here. They do so, just enough to get settled in and then this is literally sprung on them. I am only 23 years old and I think I have more common sense and care more about where I live then some who are commenting. No, things are not the same as they used to be 40 years ago or even 30 years ago. But that doesn’t mean that you turn the other cheek when work needs to be done or when your neighbor needs help. I was taught you reach out your hand to help others and it will be self rewarding and it truly is the truth. I am proud to say that we beat them, proud to say that I got to meet some very caring and interesting people, and proud to say that I am a Republican and that I get to live in the USA!

  • lonestarrodeo Sep 29, 2011

    I attended all but one of the meetings. It is wonderful that the people who don’t live near the proposed site, think it wont take its toll on them. Did you not hear that they could not insure the fact that it will not contaminate the well water that some people are still living on? Or that they will be dumping leachate into the water systems here? Or the fact that we don’t even need another landfill in this area?!?!? Think about it. We have a landfill in Brunswick Co, Sampson Co, and one that just got approved in Randolph Co. We are surrounded on all sides. No one is going to drive further to come dump their garbage in Harnett Co if they can go to one of those and save money on the trip plus the truck and driver. This county will lose money not make it. Not to mention that it was so obvious that they lied about so many things. If we need money for schools it should be the whole counties responsibility. Not just this section of Harnett Co. Two million dollars is not even enough to m

  • vmcrogers Sep 28, 2011

    It's so nice that people that do not live in the area near the proposed dump have so much to say about the ones directly impacted by the proposed dump. Did you attend any of the 6 meetings to decide if a permit should be granted to Sandhill
    Dump? If not, then perhaps you would be more informed & not make rash comments. I did attend. Sorry folks but you don't know all the facts. 1.The people that would've suffered with the odor/disease & traffic aren't resposible for the woes of money problems in HC...the burden should be shared by all not just the one that live in the area. 2. The money made from the trash in our back door would come from all 100 counties in NC & some counties from SC wouldn't be spent in HC--the owners live out of town. 3. We would've had no say in what trash is dumped in the landfill (medical,human,toxic waste). 4.The original permit for the sandpit had a condition that once they completed mining the sand, they were required to retore it back the way they found it.

  • larieke Sep 28, 2011

    "thinkin out loud", the majority of liberals don't pay taxes. That's why they have no problem with raising taxes.

  • Lucky_Granny Sep 28, 2011

    @Deathrow

    Agreed! You asked for it you got it, now pay up!

  • thinkin out loud Sep 28, 2011

    Omegababy I hear your cry but liberals just want to increase government, spend more money and raise taxes to do it. They want to take care of all of societies problems without the means to pay for it. I am a Republican but I to get sick of all the rhetoric and no action. I believe in smaller government but how do we get there without hurting those that need the most such as is happening with the schools for the deaf and blind.

    I live in Harnett County and hope our elected officials read these comments. Remember commissioners, we elected you to do a job for us, we employee you. You applied for a job and the majority voted to hire you. If your performance is unsatisfactory we will fire you by hiring someone else to do the job. You are to represent us and what we want not for your own agenda or to advance your political desires or build your bank accounts (or those of your families).

  • Rebelyell55 Sep 28, 2011

    The people in public service in Harnett are no different than other public workers, you got good ones and then ya got those who really don't need to be working in any public service position. But, the issue here was where to bring more money for the county. I've posted one idea. While this may not be popular, they could look at shutting down some type of partical shutdown of some agencies one day a week. We're in a slow economy right now and there is no need to pay the cost for a full five day week. Go to 4 day week and save money. If and when the economy picks back up, then maybe go to the five day week. Not all agencies need to be open for five day a week.

  • C6-YA Sep 28, 2011

    OmegaBaby,

    Funny, I despise the Libs for the same thing.

  • burnstock99 Sep 28, 2011

    This issue won't go away without changes to our throw away consumer lifestyles. Nobody wants a landfill but everyone likes consuming and not thinking twice about where it goes when you're done with it. A products lifecycle does not end when you are done with it. If the landfill was able to convert waste to energy and the people of Harnett County were able to see a reduction in their utility costs then don't you think it would be given a closer look. Business as usual (I'm talking to the conservatives) will not sustain the lifestyles we're all used to. Good for the people of Harnett for speaking up and shame on you government officials for not offering more incentives.

  • rebelyell57 Sep 28, 2011

    I'm tired of this whole "ruse" about more people in the county and more kids in the schools means we need to come up with new sources of revenue/landfills. Someone should explain to Tim McNeill that if you have more people in the county they will be paying more taxes through sales and property. Oh wait, I'm sure Tim has other reasons for wanting this landfill. Maybe they are personal reasons.

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