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Landowner Plans to Turn Farm into Landfill

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RALEIGH — A local farmer has plans to get into another business, trash. He wants to build a landfill on his property, and his neighbors are horrified.

The landowner, Walter Cooke, has applied for a special use permit to turn his farm into a landfill. The permit won't be approved, if Cooke's neighbors have their way.

Raleigh resident Rob Drane stops to check on the time of the next public hearing on whether this farmland should be the site of a new dump. Here's why:

"There's some concern on our part if there's going to be a decrease in value to our neighborhood," Drane explains.

Drane is one of some 1,200 homeowners who live within two-miles of the site on Old Watkins Road. The owner of the land wants to use 33 acres for a landfill for land clearing and inert debris-- leftovers from new construction.

The proposal calls for the landfill to be in operation until the year 2050, at which time it will be turned into a tree farm or a park. It's the next 50 years residents are concerned about-- decreased property values, increased truck traffic and the possibility of contaminated wetlands.

"When people build your houses, they pour paint in the yard," says landfill opponent Richard Pleasant. "They tear wood off the house if they make a mistake on it. They put concrete in the ground, and all that stuff gets dumped into a truck and dumped into a landfill like this."

County officials say the landfill will only take in non-toxic materials. But residents, like Bill Kazar who just bought his house last November, aren't convinced.

"After he gets this permit, who knows?" Kazior worries. "He could get another permit. There could be garbage in there, liquids such as pesticides, paint-- and that's something we don't want to happen."

The owner of the land, Walter Cooke was out of town Thursday. But WRAL did speak with his son who said his father doesn't believe the landfill will cause detriment to the community.

Wake County commissioners will hold a public hearing before they vote on the issue on Monday. The county planning board is recommending they approve it.

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Laurie Clowers, Reporter
Greg Clark, Photographer
Kerrie Hudzinski, Web Editor

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