Local News

Fight over Harnett County landfill goes to court

Posted July 19, 2012 1:19 p.m. EDT
Updated July 19, 2012 7:29 p.m. EDT

— A firm wanting to convert a 370-acre sand mine in Harnett County to a landfill appealed to a judge Thursday to reverse a decision by county officials who rejected the project.

Sandhills Environmental had planned for the waste management facility off N.C. Highway 24/27 near Cameron to accept nonhazardous household garbage.

Construction was set to begin next year, with the facility to open in 2014, but the Harnett County Board of Adjustment in September rejected the company's application for a special-use permit.

Ed Bain, an attorney for Sandhills Environmental, argued Thursday before Superior Court Judge William Pittman that the five-member board considered factors in its decision that were beyond its authority, such as the impact on property values and public safety as standards.

The General Assembly, the company's lawyers said, has already deemed landfills safe if they were properly regulated.

"As it relates to landfills, Your Honor, we've got to have landfills," Bain said. "That is not an option."

But Ben Kuhn, an attorney for residents of the nearby Carolina Seasons neighborhood who have rallied against the proposed landfill, said the county has the right to regulate where a landfill is located and can consider public safety and property values.

"The location of them is clearly something – they're, in fact, required to show that they have the zoning in place before they go to the state," Kuhn said.

Residents of the neighborhood showed up in large numbers at the Board of Adjustment's September hearing about the landfill. They cited noise, odor, groundwater pollution and depressed property values as reasons to fight the landfill.

Supporters, however, have said the landfill would generate an additional $2 million in annual revenue for the county that could go to schools and road construction projects. The company has said that county could potentially receive $140 million over the life of the landfill.

It has denied that the facility will bring extra noise, traffic and odor, saying that, under the proposed plan, it would be set back 100 yards from the edge of the property and would be surrounded by a 12-foot earthen berm topped with a 20-foot wall of trees.

Pittman could rule on the matter in the next 30 days.

He could find that the board had the authority to deny the permit, or he could say the board considered standards beyond its purview and order it to issue the permit.