Clayton News-Star

Clayton weighs in on Wake landfill expansion

Clayton is asking the Wake County Board of Commissioners to help keep stench from a private landfill out of town.

Next month, Wake County will consider an application that would quadruple the daily intake limit of Shotwell Landfill near the Johnston County border. The Clayton Town Council recently weighed in on the matter in the form of a letter, essentially asking Wake to deny the request if the landfill can’t mitigate traffic and odor.

“The landfill’s stench, which is already a nuisance on hot, humid days, would be exacerbated by an increase in daily intake limits,” Mayor Jody McLeod wrote in a letter to Wake commissioners. “An increase in heavy-duty-truck traffic on the roads serving the landfill is also a concern, as they are aging, winding, rural highways. We strongly encourage a traffic study be commissioned prior to moving forward with an approval.”

Shotwell Landfill, a 133-acre dump for construction debris, sits just across the Wake County line on Smithfield Road. Currently, it takes in debris from Wake and Johnston only, but hopes to add Orange, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett and Nash to the counties it serves. The landfill can take in 250 tons of waste per day but hopes Wake commissioners will approve an increase to 1,000 tons. Wake County rejected similar requests from the landfill in 2011 and 2012.

“The total capacity of the landfill wouldn’t increase,” Clayton planner Jay McLeod told the council earlier this month during a briefing on the matter. “When they fill up, they fill up.”

The reason Clayton is talking about a Wake County landfill at all is because residents of Riverwood Athletic Club voiced concerns to the town, Jay McLeod said.

“We’ve had some concerns come from (residents) because they already experience some odor in the air and have experienced an increase in traffic,” Jody McLeod said. “With those roads being as original as they’ve always been, not expanded, not widened, to have increased traffic from those big commercial trucks bringing waste to the site, it creates a lot.”

The landfall is not inside Clayton’s planning jurisdiction, so it has no authority over it, Jay McLeod said.

“Being right next to the Town of Clayton city limits and Riverwood, it’s going to affect our citizens,” Councilman Bob Satterfield said. “Those trucks fly, and it’s a curvy road.”

“A lot of dips,” the mayor added.

Councilman Michael Grannis said the matter had been brought to him in late July, and he urged the council to take a position on the landfill application. “I’m certainly not in favor of what they’re trying to do, and I think us as a council should be in agreement on that,” he said.

Shotwell Landfill owner David King said Clayton’s concerns are unfounded and that opponents of his application shouldn’t confuse his construction debris landfill with one collecting household waste.

“Nobody likes landfills until they throw their trash away,” King said. “There is no smell (from this landfill). That’s not accurate. It’s wood, it’s plastic... the only time it would smell is after a major rainfall.”

King said he lives next to the landfill property and plans to be around for a long time. He said he’s seeking an intake increase simply to be on the same footing with other private landfills in Wake County. King said trucks coming to and from the landfill make up a fraction of the traffic on Smithfield Road.

King commissioned engineering firm Ramey Kemp to do a traffic study on Smithfield Road in March, showing that of the 4,643 vehicles that drove down the road in a 12-hour period, 204 were heavy trucks going in and out of the landfill.

“All the traffic comes from the subdivisions,” King said. “I did not create the traffic.”

Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson