Shotwell Landfill is requesting approval to accept more waste and from more counties, similar to the proposals Wake County commissioners have dumped twice in recent years.
The new request is scheduled to go before the county commission on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The 133-acre, privately-owned landfill on Smithfield Road south of Knightdale and Wendell currently accepts construction and demolition waste, only from Wake and Johnston counties.
It wants to add Orange County and the remaining counties contiguous to Wake – Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett and Nash – to its service territory.
The landfill also wants to quadruple its daily disposal limit, from 250 to 1,000 tons of waste.
Keith Johnson, a lawyer with the Raleigh law firm of Poyner-Spruill, represents Shotwell Landfill. He says the request does not call for an expansion of the facility or ask for the ability to accept any new kinds of waste.
He said the goal is to bridge the gap between the intake limits at Shotwell and the other three franchised construction and demolition debris facilities in Wake County – Material Recovery (Brownfield) Landfill in Raleigh, Greenway Waste Solutions (formerly Highway 55) Landfill in Apex and Red Rock Landfill in Holly Springs.
“There is, and has been for some time, huge disparity in the limit the county places on Shotwell compared to its three competitors that are located in the county,” Johnson said. “That creates a really unfair advantage for our competitors. All we’re asking for is that the limits the county sets for Shotwell are close to the levels they set for those competitors so we can be on an even playing field.
“It gives Shotwell the room its competitors have under disposal limits set by the county to compete for business. Whether Shotwell successfully gains market share or not remains to be seen.”
Johnson said the closest disposal cap among Shotwell’s competitors is 1,100 tons per day, and that the territory expansion request is consistent with service areas of two of the other three franchised facilities.
“(It) just puts us in the ballpark of the caps that are placed on our competitors,” he said.
In May, 2011, Wake commissioners denied Shotwell’s request to quadruple its daily intake of construction waste, increase its hours of operation and add 15 counties to the list of permitted sources.
The county board at the time seemed put off by Shotwell’s owner, David King Jr.’s failure to mention that the company had requested approval from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to accept industrial materials, including shredded automobile waste, coal ash and ground glass.
That was one example of credibility concerns opponents of the landfill and Wake commissioners have expressed over the years regarding the owner and the operation.
In June 2012, the county commissioners denied another request by the landfill – a scaled-back version of their original request that would have tripled the amount of construction waste allowed annually and added only Durham and Orange counties to its footprint
Commissioners in both cases heard and consented to the traffic, noise and environmental concerns of residents of the surrounding area.
Betty Brandt Williamson, whose family owns land next to the landfill, has been a voice for neighbors opposing the facility ever since it opened in 1999 under different ownership.
Her position hasn’t changed with the new request, which she plans to speak against during the upcoming public hearing.
“I hate public speaking, but I will do it for this,” Williamson said Friday. “It just keeps coming back. It’s just grown and grown and grown, and people’s lives and quality of life are impacted by it. One person moved. The neighbors are upset. They’re mobilizing and pulling together information, and I’m working with them. We just hope that the commissioners view it and see it our way.”
Williamson called the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Thursday to report the smell of gas coming off the landfill. She said people in the Kings Grant and Stonewater subdivisions have also complained about the odor.
“I know landfills are important because Wake County is growing, but Wake County just purchased, using an open space bond, 409 acres of what used to be our family’s farm for a conservation easement for Triangle Land Conservancy,” she said. “Why should we take waste from Orange County, Durham, Chatham? I just don’t think this location needs to be a regional landfill. It’s not compatible.”
Like previous attorneys representing Shotwell, Johnson said an increased service area and disposal limit could lead to the landfill reaching capacity and closing sooner.
“If this request is granted, the projected life of the landfill – if we are able to successfully compete in the marketplace – will be shortened to some degree,” Johnson said. “If you’ve got a defined box and you are able to put more in the box, it’s going to fill up quicker. The box doesn’t get any bigger.”
Shotwell’s owners were required to include letters indicating its compliance with the Wake County Environmental Services and Planning, Development and Inspections departments, and the N.C. DEQ in its request to the county board, Johnson said.