Commission gets an earful over plans to build landfill in Uniontown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

UNIONTOWN &045;&045; Residents attending a public hearing Monday night in Uniontown were overwhelmingly opposed to a proposed landfill.

The meeting in the R.C. Hatch High School gym was sponsored by the Perry County Commission to receive public comment on the county’s new Solid Waste Plan. That plan includes a private landfill project four miles southeast of Uniontown on County Road 1 that could service 17 states including Alabama.

The landfill will be owned and operated by Perry County Associates, LLC, reportedly based in Georgia.

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According to the plan, the projected landfill will generate 7,500 tons per day or 1,950,000 tons per year. Perry County is expected to receive $1 for every ton of waste brought to the landfill.

The people that crowded into one side of the school gym were often very vocal in their opposition to the landfill.

Seventeen persons signed up to speak at Monday’s hearing, however several other people also addressed the commission. Most were allowed at least five minutes to speak. Many of the speakers were passionate in their opposition to the landfill.

The commissioners sat quietly and allowed the residents to have their say for approximately two hours. A record of the comments will be sent to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

Rev. J.R. Murdock told the commission "if you vote for a landfill, we will not vote for you. "This is not a black thing and this is not a white thing," he said. "We’re all concerned."

Charles Holmes presented a petition against the landfill with 1,200 signatures of qualified voters.

Lucius Rayfield was in favor of a local landfill but not an international landfill. He saw the issue as "a mistrust of all politicians."

"The doors are open for corruption" involving the management of the landfill, said Bill Williams.

Mary Schaeffer, one of the most vocal against the plan, did not want Uniontown to become "a dumping ground for the eastern third of the United States….Nothing on earth that could possibly be conceived of or done by the Perry County Commissioners would have a more negative impact than putting this proposed landfill here.

Charges of "environmental racism" was made by several speakers.

Cynthia Maddox said that Uniontown was not remotely located as the solid waste proposal stated and that the residents were being exploited. "If the landfill come here, Uniontown will become a ghost town," she said.

Mike Smith, city attorney for Eutaw, was not at the hearing in his official capacity. He was representing his in-laws whose property adjoins the proposed site. He warned about diseases such as West Nile Virus that could come from such a landfill.

Tamika Stewart, a new resident, was against the landfill. She has been battling cancer for a number of years, and had previously lived near a landfill in Texas.

Bill Powell expected the commission to approve the plan. "I don’t know if this is a done deal," he said, "but I can smell it."

The Perry County Commission had originally planned to vote on the plan Tuesday morning after the hearing. Commission chairman Johnny Flowers said Monday night that vote would be moved to the regular meeting of the commission at 9 a.m. on Jan. 13.