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« Nuclear option | Main | Menter cheese, curbed? »

Jul 07, 2011

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Account Deleted

Even if Rockingham County channels the current development proposal on the Dan River near Eden toward unused property near the current county landfill, you can rest assured it will be a cold day in hell before the residents of Rockingham County look kindly on becoming Greensboro's trash dump.

We have more than 500 people in a Facebook group opposed to Kevan Comb's current site plan on the Dan River near Eden.

Fec

We worked so hard on Hammer's article from last week, it's nearly memorized. Still, Michele's led this story from the outset, and I'm waiting to read her opinion of this article.

My take, which is usually wrong, is that Thompson is the gang of four's sacrificial lamb on the issue. Suing HDR for not being aware of zoning requirements is ludicrous.

Loath as I am to agree with Hammer, it does seem like the city attorney staff, predating Danish, has handled this horribly, both in advising council that the statutes pertained to expansion and failing to advise them of zoning. It remains to be seen whether the city attorney staff is improperly politicized or merely incompetent.

michele

Fec, just returned from dinner at Bear Rock with son #2. The soap and sanitizer dispensers were empty. My wrap contained pressed turkey roll. Even with a BOGO Attractions coupon, I overpaid. But I did pick up a copy of the Rhino and I'm about to read the article...

Crafttyboro

Where is the win-win here? I hate that expression, but sometimes it just works.

Open the landfill for MSD for a period of time.

Save a bunch of money.

Use some of savings for economic development in East Greensboro, like a very low rent space on Phillips Ave. for a grocery store, road improvements, and community development.

Bank the rest for the regional landfill initiative.

In the end assure east GSO the landfill will close at some definite date.

It is distasteful in east GSO in the short run, but they will be better off in the long run.

Account Deleted

So where in Rockingham County do you think it is feasible to truck Greensboro's trash? The last 10 years have seen the southern third of the county become a bedroom community for Greensboro. It has seen the only growth in residential value, and thus tax base for the struggling county revenues.

To get to the Dan River site next to Eden will require many miles on back country roads. The trash trucks would have to come up Battleground/220 to NC 135 in Mayodan and then about half-way across the county on a country highway.

To get to the current county landfill would be even worse, since it is situated in Bethany, so if your trucks come up US 29 they have to go all the way through Wentworth on NC 87 (already overloaded because it is the only road to the high school, the courthouse and the community college) across the dangerous and narrow Settle Bridge west of Wentworth and then across miles of farm country.

Good luck putting a Greensboro landfill in the southern part of Rockingham County. That's where all the rich land, rich people and political power lies.

michele
"Wade said that the city had no reason to think that it couldn't simply start using the White Street Landfill for Greensboro's garbage. But she said that councilmembers had also believed, incorrectly, that they could also move ahead with Phase IV and Phase V, since the City Legal Department had not told them anything about the area designated for future landfill use having not been legally 'selected' as a landfill site."

The use of the word "selected" is a specific reference to NCGS 160A-325, which says, in part:

"The governing board of a city shall consider alternative sites and socioeconomic and demographic data and shall hold a public hearing prior to selecting or approving a site for a new sanitary landfill..."

I am even more curious now about the behind-closed-doors privileged legal advice that Council received regarding NCGS 160A-325.

michele

From this week's Rhino:

"The city has been considering reopening White Street Landfill since 2009, when the previous council headed by Mayor Yvonne Johnson started the process. In that time, evidently, no one in the legal department bothered to check the zoning on the landfill. In two years the city attorney's office had not discovered a critical fact that it took an outside attorney two weeks to find."

That is really odd. But so is this:

From last week's Rhino:

"When the city annexed and zoned the land that makes up part of Phase IV and Phase V on July 16, 2002, condition 17 of the zoning ordinance states, 'None of this property can ever be used as a landfill cell.' ...voting with Carmany and Phillips in favor of the motion were Mayor Keith Holliday, and Councilmembers Florence Gatten, Don Vaughan and Yvonne Johnson. Councilmember Claudette Burroughs-White voted no, and Councilmembers Robbie Perkins and Belvin Jessup were absent."

In 2002, Yvonne Johnson voted to zone the Phase IV and Phase V property so that it couldn't be used as a landfill, but then in 2009, she was Mayor on the Council that started the process of re-opening the landfill. Did she forget about her 2002 vote? Perkins wasn't there the day of the vote, but surely he heard about it? He forgot,too? Holliday, then-mayor, now part of the landfill opposition, forgot his vote, too? Vaughan, married to a current Council member, also forgot? Am I wrong in thinking that the votes on the landfill were a big deal back in 2002? Or was the wording of the landfill zoning particularly confusing, and that's why no one remembers voting on this?

jc

"Loath as I am to agree with Hammer, it does seem like the city attorney staff, predating Danish, has handled this horribly, both in advising council that the statutes pertained to expansion and failing to advise them of zoning. It remains to be seen whether the city attorney staff is improperly politicized or merely incompetent. "

This could be a dream, but IIRC, I believe it was Ed, or was it Robbie, was stating just last week that Council should be listening to staff more, as these were highly trained professionals and offered excellent advice. It now looks like the legal staff are a bunch of incompetent fools who have cost the taxpayers a small fortune in costs plus no telling how much wasted time. Let's all hope the other department staff members, who are probably paid a lot less then legal,can offer a little better advice to Council on other issues. What say you Ed?

Crafty nails it!!!!

Fec

Roch has received an opinion from the NC School of Government that advising council on a statute is public record and the contended attorney/client privilege does not apply.

Regarding the zoning, a memory lapse has advantages. But the sad reality probably is that they all really did forget. However, it's not gonna stop me from making political hay.

michele
"...according to Thompson it doesn't matter if the city is ever allowed to use Phase IV and Phase V because, he said, the future is in partnering with other counties and siting a regional landfill... Thompson said the seed money could come from the funds Greensboro will save from using White Street, and then the city could make money on the new regional landfill like the city did for years with White Street, except this one won't be in the city."

Was this the plan all along, or is this the fall-back plan? If the City could have signed a 30-year contract at White Street, would Thompson still have pursued a regional landfill? If yes, then why didn't he bring this up already? (Did I miss it?) Wouldn't this perhaps slightly mitigate concerns of landfill opponents?

Is it just me, or does it seem to anyone else that there are unanswered questions all around (pro, con, liberal, conservative, old Council, new Council, old City legal, new City legal) on the landfill re-opening?

Fec

Occam's razor says they're not a bunch of strategic geniuses, but rather blithering idiots.

michele
"But the sad reality probably is that they all really did forget."

Fec, I can't judge too harshly. I forget things that I did yesterday. ;)

Fec

We all do. That's the point.

BTW, Occam's razor was right about Hammer's article last week. The gang of four stated they didn't know they had to take action to expand the landfill. We now know from Wade's statement that was a lie: that in fact they choose to adopt an arcane legal strategy based on the word "selected."

michele

Answering my own question in this thread about whether a regional landfill was Thompson's plan all along, or a fall-back plan:

From YES! Weekly blog, 03-18-2011:

During his campaign for city council in 2009, Thompson could be counted in the don’t-reopen-the-landfill column, and also in the don’t-continue-to-send-waste-down-the-road column. Like former Mayor Yvonne Johnson and future District 2 Councilman Kee at the time, he favored a third way of utilizing alternative technology. Eighteen months later, the third way is looking less viable.

“I would not be in favor of opening the White Street Landfill to household waste,” Thompson told voters during a candidate forum sponsored by Guilford County Unity Effort in September 2009, adding that he was also not in favor of continuing to transport waste out of the county. “Now, I think what we can do is, as has been stated before, technology has advanced to where we can turn our trash into treasure, be it an incinerator, be it covering it and tapping the methane gas, or be it contracting out and allowing miners to go in to be able to dig through the trash and do whatever miners do with trash. We need to start that discussion now on a regional basis instead of just trucking our trash down the highway because we’re going to be — when our contract comes up for renewal, it’s going to be a matter of if it’s going to be double, triple or quadruple the price. And so just wiping our hands from it and charging the taxpayers $2 million a year to truck it down the highway — it’s not an easy solution, but I don’t believe the solution is opening the landfill.”

Asked about his previous position today, Thompson noted that in his 2009 campaign ad in The Rhinoceros Times he spoke out against transporting the city’s solid waste to a landfill in Montgomery County.

“I still believe that the first part I campaigned on: We’ve got to quit trucking our trash to Montgomery County,” he said. “It’s too expensive. We’re going to see that this summer. It’s going to put a crimp in our budget. As I have made the transition from being a candidate and looking at doing some research on the [alternative] technology, it doesn’t appear that technology is the most cost effective, nor is it something that’s being utilized on a regular scale here in the United States.”

Thompson said another alternative floated last fall — to dispose of the city’s solid waste in a regional landfill in neighboring Randolph County — also looks unviable.

“There is no Randolph County regional landfill,” he said. [The NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources] is permitting less and less landfill. We don’t have that many options. We either continue what we’re doing or we look at for a short-term we open up the landfill and we do things that don’t impede the neighborhood as much as used to whether it’s buffers or coming in from the backside of Cone Boulevard or US Highway 29 or... It looks like gas prices are going to continue to rise, and that’s a very long way. Montgomery County is a poorer county than Guilford County, so we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back and say, ‘We’re doing the right thing by continuing to send it there.’”

Account Deleted

Good stuff Michele. Thanks for that.

michele

You're welcome. I wonder if landfill opponents realize how much thought Thompson has given the issue? He definitely seems to be trying for the best solution. But the politics on this one...

Fec

That's right, it's all about the politics. The landfill is now simply a cudgel with which to beat the conservatives.

B v

Crafty--please point out to me another time when a short term gain for GSO has led to long term gain for East GSO.
Don't believe a word of what they say.

Billy Jones

Thompson has put almost no thought into this issue. Neither has the rest of Council pro or con. But it appears Thompson has thought more than some. Jeff is correct that Rockingham County simply isn't a viable location. The mileage will be almost as far as Uharrie and travel time, hence transportation cost, will be higher. Unless Greensboro plans to build new roads across Rockingham County.

Picking out a landfill site isn't as easy as people seem to think it is. You can't just pick any old piece of farm land and call it a dump. There are zero viable locations in Guilford or Rockingham Counties unless you plan to bulldoze the subdivisions (most of them new) that are built upon grounds that meet EPA and DENR requirements for landfills.

Like it or not, sooner or later we Greensboro taxpayers are going to have to learn to live with our own garbage.

Billy Jones

If GM can do it then Greensboro can do it.

michele

Thanks for the link, Billy. I've been wondering why there hasn't been more of a push toward recycling and other ways to reduce our trash output. Just think of all the apartment complexes where renters don't have recycling bins on the property. That's just one example of a huge amount of extra trash that shouldn't be going to a landfill. And our recycling facility doesn't accept all of the materials that are recyclable.

Billy Jones

Michelle wrote: "I've been wondering why there hasn't been more of a push toward recycling and other ways to reduce our trash output. Just think of all the apartment complexes where renters don't have recycling bins on the property. That's just one example of a huge amount of extra trash that shouldn't be going to a landfill. And our recycling facility doesn't accept all of the materials that are recyclable."

Greensboro's two bit recycling program doesn't handle most recyclables. Before my doctors pushed me to quit working I was buying a lot of off-the-list-items from employees there, who carried it out the back door.

And when I went over there on a sales call, their management had no clue the stuff was of any value. If it weren't for the employees "stealing" from the company, we taxpayers would be paying to haul it to landfills.

Account Deleted

@Billy: "And when I went over there on a sales call, their management had no clue the stuff was of any value. If it weren't for the employees "stealing" from the company, we taxpayers would be paying to haul it to landfills."

Now that's an anecdote!

Ron

I am an opponent of opening the landfill, however 3 years certainly isn't as bad as 15 years and would do very little damage to the area in terms of economic development and health. But I do think now is the time for really planning for a regional landfill. Otherwise we are going to keep fighting this battle. 3 years from now this subject is going to come back up again.

Ron

If and when this regional landfill is built, hopefully county/city leaders will learn from past mistakes and not allow new residential development near the landfill.

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