Proposed landfill riles Scotland County farmers
One of the state's poorest counties is considering creating a regional landfill to generate extra revenue, but nearby farmers are lining up against the project, saying it could contaminate their land.Posted — Updated
The landfill would stretch across 240 acres – buffer areas would expand the site to 600 acres – and would encompass a former dump that is now used for construction debris. The regional landfill would take in 3,000 tons of trash a day from a 100-mile radius, and the mountain of garbage would eventually reach a height of 240 feet.
Scotland County Manager Kevin Patterson said a regional landfill could dump $2 million a year into the county, which had a 16.6 percent unemployment rate in March – the second-highest jobless rate in North Carolina.
"We are looking at alternative ways of raising revenue without going back into the actual tax rolls," Patterson said.
Most of the site for the proposed landfill is privately owned, so the county would have to seize it through eminent domain. Officials said they would contract with a private company to operate the landfill.
Eddie Carmichael, who farms with his brother near the site, said a major landfill would be bad for the area.
"This whole area will just be this huge mountain of garbage," Carmichael said. "It's not what Scotland County needs."
About eight acres of Carmichael's farm would be taken for the landfill, he said, including his irrigation well. That prompts concerns of contamination.
"Nobody's going to grow vegetable crops around here again because of the risk," he said, adding that birds flocking to the landfill also could foul farm fields with their waste.
Carmichael said Scotland County should focus on trying to attract industry to the nearby Laurinburg-Maxton Airport as Fort Bragg's growth spreads across the region.
"This is right next to the airport where we’re trying to get industry, and it’s just not the right place for a landfill,” he said. "A mega-dump is not industry. This will bring very, very few jobs to the county."
Patterson conceded that a landfill wouldn't generate many jobs, but he said it would generate revenue.
"(It) would be a revenue source that could help offset some of the taxes," he said.
The site's proximity to the airport would require the county to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for the landfill.
J.D. Willis, chairman of the Scotland County Board of Commissioners, said the board hasn't decided whether to move forward with the project and wants to continue gathering information from residents and industry representatives.
Carmichael said he and other residents believe the county can do better.
"It's like we have lost our pride if we bring this thing in here," he said. "We've given up. We're saying we can't bring in any industry in here, so just bring in the trash. We have no pride left."