Problems With The Key Staff Findings On The Landfill

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Concerning the proposed C&D Landfill in Harrison, on Sept. 11, the staff of the Chattanooga Hamilton-County Regional Planning Agency made a presentation to the Planning Commission for the rezoning request.  Mr. Schultz for the staff made the following statements which were titled "Staff Key Findings."  I would like to contend with their findings. 

1. "Proposal is supported by the recommendations of the comprehensive plan.”  The Comprehensive Plan 2030 states that existing facilities should be expanded before creating new locations with "significant regional impact." The new location is in fact not an expansion of existing facilities.  An expansion would not require additional purchase of property, additional right of ways or additional zoning changes.  An expansion would, one might logically assume, be under the current ownership and management.  Most significantly the new proposal is substantially different in that it crosses a ridge and the new location is on the river side of that ridge, which brings up additional environmental effects which may bring about "significant regional impact" as it directly affects the Tennessee River.

2. "The proposed use… would only be compatible to the surrounding residential uses if negative impacts are adequately mitigated.” At the County Commission hearing last week the proposed operators stated that they could not and would not be able to control what will go into the site.  They said it would be up to the contractors, who may or may not be trained, who may or may not be knowledgeable, to determine what went into this site.  In other words, there is nothing the proposed owners will do which will adequately mitigate the potential environmental risks. 

3.  "Proposed zone allows for other uses…"   Other uses?  The local residents and our local environment must be protected and the County Commission is the only one that can do that.  Someone please ask the question; Does the Commission get a say in those other uses? (Answer according to TDEC is no!)  Has anyone considered what the impact of the "other uses" will be on the environment. 

4.  "Proposed structure does raise concerns regarding location near residential homes, water infiltrations based on use…" Exactly what are the staff concerns for water infiltration? If neither the County Commission nor the professional staff of the CHCRPA can answer that one question should the commissioners not reject the proposal. 

5. "This proposal would be an extension of an existing zone because there is an existing landfill zoned M1 immediately adjacent to the site."  A M1 zone is not necessary for a Construction and Demolition (C&D) landfill according to our own Hamilton County zoning ordinances. The reason for a M1 zone is for hazardous waste disposal.  Please do not allow this agricultural area to become a hazardous waste site. 

RPA staff "Conclusions" read in part: “allowing the M1 zone to expand will set the precedent that the M1 zone is appropriate in this rural and natural area." 

The staff is providing a warning and a way out to the commissioners. It is inappropriate (and unadvisable) to have another M1 zone in this rural and natural area.  This site is located on the riverside of a hill adjacent to a natural watershed which extends approximately 1,500 yards distance and approximately 300 feet above Chickamauga Lake.  This site was twice denied by the Commission for use as a dump.  The site was rejected a third time in a geological report from June 27, 1984 which deemed the proposed site “hydro-geologically unsuitable for use as a sanitary landfill due to the possibility of both ground and surface water contamination.” Yes, that study was for a sanitary landfill.  At that time, there was no distinction between a C&D and any other landfill.  And the legislation was not authorized until 1988 to mandate liners in Municipal Solid Waste landfill.  The structure of this proposed dump is essentially the same as the one rejected in 1984. 

Finally, this proposed site is not an urgent need:  Currently C&D waste, along with most household garbage from the whole Hamilton County area, including all of Chattanooga's waste, is being carried to the Bradley County Landfill at the edge of Hamilton County near I-75.  Bradley County landfill officials have stated that they have adequate capacity for more than 50 years at current usage. 

Therefore, as one who loves the Harrison Bay and Tennessee River I propose: 

First, that the Board of Commissioners deny this request. And, 

Second, that the Commission put together a special committee charged with determining the best method or methods and the best location for disposing of waste in a manner which protects our environment, plans for future growth and is sustainable for the long-term good of the greater Chattanooga-Hamilton County area. 

Further I urge all citizens of Hamilton County to contact their Commissioners today and tell them to vote no! 

Rev. Earnie Burfitt


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