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USC at Tennessee

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A Charleston County Council committee snuffed out a decades-old plan Thursday to possibly build a landfill for household garbage in the rural Adams Run community.

But a landfill for construction waste and debris still might be in the works for the area, which sits on the southwestern edge of the county near the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Parkers Ferry Road.

The Planning and Public Works Committee was scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on measures that would have allowed the construction waste landfill proposal to move a step forward. That would have required an amendment to the county's long-term land-use plan and a zoning change. But the committee put that vote on hold until its Dec. 3 meeting and scheduled a Dec. 1 public hearing on the matter.

The committee also voted 8-0 to put up for sale a 750-acre site the county owns adjacent to the 313-acre site of the proposed private construction waste landfill. Councilman Paul Thurmond did not attend the meeting.

The county purchased that property about 20 years ago with the intention of possibly using it as a site for a municipal solid waste landfill when the Bees Ferry Landfill was full. Some council members said the group had ruled out using the county's land for garbage. The committee voted to sell the property partly because the move sends a clear message to the Adams Run community that a landfill for household garbage is not coming their way, the committee said.

Both landfill proposals have generated strong opposition from community residents who worry about the safety of their water, which comes from wells, and the fragile low-lying environment near the ACE Basin.

But Mount Pleasant businessman Tre Sheppard's proposal to build a landfill for construction waste has garnered support from some council members.

Sheppard said Wednesday that if he is allowed to build the landfill, he plans to operate in an environmentally safe manner and to be considerate of area residents.

He said he plans to recycle at least 60 percent of the materials that he collects, a rate that far exceeds the county's recently established goal of recycling 40 percent of the stream of solid waste.

Sheppard knows that many area residents oppose his plan to build a landfill. But he said that if he's allowed to move forward and start the business, he's certain that even those now opposed will "actually be pleased with what's going on."

Rick Miller, an Adams Run resident who lives near Sheppard's land, said he and many other residents remain opposed to the project. Residents depend on wells for their water, he said. And if chemicals and other toxins leak from the landfill, they could destroy the area's water supply, he said.

He's surprised the plan still is being considered. "We thought it was dead in the water," Miller said.

The county's Planning Commission in February voted to recommend that County Council not move forward with the plan. Council then postponed discussion on the plan, first for 90 days, then indefinitely, as it made progress on the basic structure of a countywide plan for handling solid waste.

Councilman Joe McKeown said he thinks the county needs a site for construction waste. But he proposed conditions that he wants Sheppard to agree to before giving the project the go-ahead. The committee approved those conditions, which include: making sure Sheppard's plan is consistent with the county's larger solid waste plan; requiring Sheppard to pay a fee to the county for every ton of waste he disposes of and an additional fee for any out-of-county waste he accepts; agreeing to a long-term contract to handle storm debris if another hurricane should hit the county; and meeting recycling goals. McKeown also said that he thinks Sheppard should agree to line the landfill to make it safer for the environment. The law doesn't require that construction waste landfills be lined.

Councilmen Dickie Schweers and Vic Rawl, who represents the area in which the proposed landfill sits, questioned the wisdom of moving forward with the project before the county's detailed and long-term solid waste plan was complete.

But Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said the landfill is needed, and Sheppard's proposal meets the initial goals for handling solid waste. For example, he said, the county wants to develop more public and private partnerships for handling its garbage, and Sheppard's plan does that. Pryor also said that he's pleased with the amount Sheppard plans to recycle.

Pryor knows that some people who live near the site are opposed to the project. But garbage is always a sensitive issue. "And some folks, no matter what you do, you won't satisfy them," he said.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or dknich@postandcourier.com.