Charleston County will enter talks with the owner of 70 acres valued at more than $6 million to acquire the property as a buffer for its Bees Ferry landfill, County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said Tuesday.
County Administrator Kurt Taylor and County Attorney Joe Dawson will meet with the property owner, Grand Bees LLC.
The course of action was announced at the end of a Council meeting. No vote was taken on the issue Tuesday.
Last week, the Council Finance Committee voted 5-4 to proceed with acquisition of the property.
The rectangular-shaped highland property, which is at the east end of the 450-acre landfill, is a potential site for about 250 houses that would be part of the Grand Oaks development.
"We're concerned about houses being built right up next to the landfill," County Councilman Herb Sass said in an interview after the meeting.
Taylor and Dawson will report back to Pryor at the next regularly-scheduled Council meeting on July 27.
"We're just asking staff to go work out a contract," Sass said.
Any contract negotiated would be subject to Council approval.
There is now only 100 feet between the landfill and the property where houses could be built. If the county purchases the 70 acres, there would be a wooded buffer the width of a football field separating the landfill from residential development.
Sass said in a recent briefing to Council members on the issue that if homes are built on the land the county wants to buy, opposition from residents could force the county to stop receiving waste at the landfill or reduce its operations.
"Then I guess we let the garbage guys run the county and they can charge us as much as they want. At this point the county will be at the mercy of the private landfill owners," Sass said.
About half of the municipal solid waste in the county goes to the Bees Ferry landfill. The rest is trucked to a landfill in Dorchester County.
The landfill has about 25-to-30 years of capacity remaining. For that reason the county has been exploring new technologies for waste management, officials said.
The landfill no longer accepts construction and demolition debris from commercial sources, but it still receives that type of waste from private homeowners and municipalities. Commercial construction and demolition debris is being hauled elsewhere at a 50 percent higher cost to residents, Sass said.
The landfill, part of a much larger tract of land owned by Georgia Pacific, was purchased by the county in the early 1980s. Over the years, many single-family residential neighborhoods and high-density apartment developments have been constructed in the area, which has moved housing closer to the landfill.
"What was once out in the country is now surrounded by the city of Charleston," Sass said.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 530-1456.