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Holly Springs Residents, Wake County Take Landfill Stink to State Level

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WAKE COUNTY — Wake County is running out of landfill space, and county leaders believe a piece of land in Holly Springs holds the solution. Local residents disagree.

People who live near the proposed South Wake Landfill are concerned about environmental impact. The county says the landfill could save taxpayers $400 million in trash hauling costs.

A decision on the fate of the South Wake Landfill now sits in the hands ofSherri Evans-Stanton, the Deputy Secretary of theNorth Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Thursday morning, Evans-Stanton heard complex legal arguments from both sides in the dispute.

The arguments centered around one theme: Did Holly Springs and Wake County have an agreement on a new landfill off N.C. 55, or just an agreement on the expansion of the nearby Feltonsville Landfill?

Holly Springs residents say their town never gave the county permission to build a whole new landfill, just to expand the existing one.

"Wake County simply does not have the permission -- required permission -- of the town of Holly Springs to locate a landfill within the town's jurisdiction," says Jim Fuller, an attorney for residents opposing the landfill.

Opponents say what makes the situation worse is that Holly Springs has seen unprecedented growth since the landfill plans were discussed. Wake County's attorney stressed a deal is a deal.

Lawyers for Wake County also insist Holly Springs knew what the landfill plan called for when it was first proposed almost a decade ago.

"Nobody was trying to deceive anyone. What we were trying to do, and what the county did, was give Holly Springs the information that we had. A year or two later the terms changed, but the landfill did not change. It's the exact same facility," says Michael Ferrell, an attorney for the county.

To make the landfill more acceptable to nearby residents, the county has made minor concessions, including moving the landfill's entrance site to the N.C. 55 bypass under construction.

About a year ago, Wake County had the approval it needed for this landfill, but Holly Springs residents convinced a judge to overturn it.

Now, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has the final say. The state could have a ruling on the landfill in one week. More likely, the decision deadline will be postponed for two months.

If approved, the landfill would be in operation for more than 20 years.