Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Commissioners give second (final) nod to out-of-town company’s proposed takeover of locally-owned C&D landfill

There weren’t any surprises this week when Alamance County’s commissioners were asked to confirm an earlier decision in support of a franchise agreement with an out-of-town company that wants to take over a private landfill for construction and demolition debris in the southern part of the county.

During their latest, regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners voted 3-to-2, again, to approve this agreement with Meridian Waste, which previously received the county’s permission to purchase a C&D dump that Kent Coble has long operated at 5833 Foster Store Road in Liberty.

Although the commissioners had balked at an earlier iteration of this deal in February of this year, they narrowly approved a revised version of the franchise agreement that Meridian brought before them in August.

According to this amended proposal, the company will be able to handle an average daily load of 600 tons – the same limit that Coble could theoretically receive under his own county franchise. Meridian will also be able to accept this debris from any one of 26 counties in North Carolina – as opposed to the 25-mile service radius that had officially hemmed in the landfill’s previous owner. Meridian will nevertheless be prohibited from serving anyone from outside its specified zone, unlike Coble, who had a revolving list of 25 customers that could be located outside his service area.

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In exchange for the right to do business in Alamance County, Meridian will be obligated to give the county a “host fee” of $1 for every ton of waste it receives. Meridian has guaranteed that these contributions will amount to at least $100,000 a year by the third year of its franchise, although the company expects this sum to be closer to $219,000 per annum.

Under state law, the board of commissioners was obligated to approve Meridian’s franchise in two separate “readings,” or votes – the first of which ended in the company’s favor on August 21.

Commissioner Craig Turner – who had backed the agreement last month alongside the board’s chairman John Paisley, Jr. and its vice chairman Steve Carter – was the first to lend his support to the deal when it came back up for its state-mandated second reading on Tuesday.

“The reason I voted for it last time and the reason I’ll move for it this time,” he said at the time, “is that the 25-customer grandfather clause in Coble’s existing agreement allows, by way of right, the current operator to bring in C&D landfill trash from anywhere – Virginia, South Carolina…For that reason, I think the new franchise is a better option in that it provides more restrictions than we currently have.”

Turner was again joined by Carter and Paisley in the final vote to approve of Meridian’s franchise. This three-person majority was opposed, however, by commissioners Bill Lashley, who had also dissented from the previous decision in August along with fellow commissioner Pam Thompson.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Lashley reiterated his previously stated objections that, while Meridian may be restricted by the same hypothetical limit on tonnage as Coble, the landfill’s new owner actually plans to scrape this contractual ceiling, while Coble never received more than a small fraction of the allowable waste.  Meanwhile, Thompson complained about the impact that this anticipated increase in volume will have on the roads in the southern part of the county.

“The issue to me is still the over-traffic in the neighborhood,” she asserted before she joined Lashley in opposing the franchise on its second reading.

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