Wake County commissioners ruled Monday that the owners of Shotwell Landfill may not expand the level at which waste can be deposited in that facility and, in so doing, also ruled that the landfill may not take refuse from a larger geographic area.
We generally would disapprove of governments making a decision to limit the ability of a company to grow. But landfills are regulated businesses in part because waste can be present dangers to people. To be clear, though, the Shotwell facility isn’t a garbage dump in the sense that we think of landfills. This landfill takes construction and demolition refuse. That includes things like tree stumps, unused or unrecyclable wood and the other detritus that comes from construction sites.
Still, neighboring residents have shown their displeasure with any expansion and they’ve done it the right way: through petitioning their government for redress and making logical, evidence-based arguments against the request. They haven’t approached microphones at county meetings shouting at the top of their lungs and losing their tempers.
When the Shotwell Landfill originally opened, it was, to be sure, operating under a business plan that would allow the venture to be financially successful. There are relatively few places in Wake County where construction and demolition crews can deposit their waste, so the competition is relatively light and competition is the one thing that can wreck a business plan faster than anything else.
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With limited competition and a growing demand for their services, it seems likely the company can thrive without the expansion its owners sought. To be sure, it could make more money over a shorter period of time had commissioners voted differently.
But in this case, the company really isn’t hurt by the county’s decision and hundreds of residents who live around the landfill won’t be hurt either.