Raleigh, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to reject plans for a landfill expansion south of Knightdale.
The operators of Shotwell Landfill, off Smithfield Road, wanted to triple the amount of construction and demolition debris they could accept each year, from 250 to 750 tons a day. They also wanted to be able to take in waste from Durham and Orange counties.
Nearby residents expressed concern about the dump trucks that travel through the rural area to and from the landfill, which people say kick up dust and sometimes litter the roadside with their debris, and the potential that the unlined landfill could contaminate their drinking water.
"Trucks go on those roads every two minutes," said Betty Brandt Williamson, who lives near the landfill. "There have been no improvements on the roads since the '60s, when I grew up out there and (before) the landfill came."
Daria Spiak tearfully told commissioners that she and her husband moved to the area from New York, not knowing there was a landfill nearby. They had lived near a landfill in New York, and many of their neighbors died of cancer, she said, noting that her husband is a cancer survivor.
"They can tell you all you want that there's no medical reason to oppose a landfill, but I've spent years trying to save my husband from dying," Spiak said. "Please don't let them do this. Please. I want to see my grandchildren grow up."
A year ago, commissioners shot down plans for an even-larger expansion proposed by the Shotwell Landfill owners, and attorney Philip Isley said the landfill is working to reduce its impacts on neighbors, such as wetting down the landfill entrance to reduce the amount of dust from trucks.
"It is our sincere intention to coexist peacefully with neighbors," Isley said.
Commissioners said, however, that they saw little benefit to the county from a larger landfill.
"What I see is an imbalance – too much benefit to the individual and not enough benefit to the community," Commissioner Erv Portman said.
Commissioner Joe Bryan noted that the county has spent $20 million to acquire land in Marsh Creek watershed to improve water quality in the area, and allowing the landfill to expand would run counter to that effort.
"While it may make perfect business sense, it's bad news for this part of the county and the people trying to make a life there," Bryan said.