ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Commissioners will consider adopting a "Jackson Law" resolution later this month which gives the county more power to regulate new landfill developments.
County Attorney Jim Phillips advised commissioners Monday, however, that adoption of a Jackson Law resolution would not impact plans that Republic Services currently have for an expansion at the Carters Valley Landfill.
Republic is in the process of seeking a permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservartion to construct a 46 foot vertical expansion of future “cells” constructed at the Carters Valley.
Phillips told the Commission's Environmental Committee Monday that the Hawkins County Commission's contract signed with BFI in 2001 prohibits the county from imposing any restriction or regulations on the landfill operation beyond what is required by federal law.
That contract continues as long as the landfill is being operated, and if ownership changes, the new owners inherit that contract.
Why has the Jackson Law been proposed?
Surgoinsville resident Teresa Greer, who was among a group of concerned citizens to attend Monday’s meeting, told commissioners that the Carters Valley Landfill wasn't part of the reason why they are requesting that Hawkins County adopt the Jackson Law.
"This is to say that Republic, or any person, couldn't go to Keplar or Mooresburg and buy up 300-400 acres of property and start a new landfill without the County Commission," Greer said. "We all agree we need a place to put our household garbage. This isn't anything against Republic, because this doesn't affect them. This affects the rest of the county, and anybody who might want to come in and make a landfill in the future."
Greer added, "It just makes good sense that the County Commission has control over our community and what's dumped here."
What is the Jackson Law?
The Jackson Law "Jackson Law" is an optional general law that may be adopted by a by a two-thirds majority vote of the commission.
It states that no new construction will be initiated for a landfill without the approval of the county legislative body unless the landfill only accepts waste generated by its owner and all such waste is generated in the same county as the landfill.
Also, if landfill construction is proposed within an incorporated area, or within one mile of an incorporated area, the governing body of the municipality must give its approval before construction can be initiated.
Republic's plans for the landfill
The Carters Valley Landfill is comprised of 362 acres, and is accessed at the intersection of Carters Valley Road and Bradley Creek Road just north of the Church Hill and Surgoinsville boundary.
Of that 362 acres, 86 is permitted for waste disposal, and so far about 65 of those acres have been used. They plan on building a new “cell” every 3-4 years.
Republic environmental manager Derek Bouchard told the committee Monday the life expectancy of the landfill is currently projected at 87 to 113 years based on current tonnage intake.
The proposed vertical expansion currently being considered by TDEC would elevate future cells at the landfill 46 feet, but Bouchard said that isn't due to a space shortage.
Republic is already permitted to cut 20 feet into bedrock for new cells, but Bouchard said hopes to avoid blasting into limestone by raising the level, and switching from a tiered "bench" to a "straight slope".
Bouchard said the slope design is preferable with regards to drainage and settlement issues, and is easier to maintain.
Recommended to the County Commission
Monday was deadline to submit a resolution for consideration on the County Commission’s Dec. 17 agenda.
The Environmental Committee voted 7-0 to recommend approval of the Jackson Law resolution.
"I don't think we need new landfills coming in and the county not being involved in knowing what's going to be brought in,” said Committee chairman Danny Alvis.