Landfill proposal dies with protest

Dexter Brunson, on behalf of the Pinebergen Community, presented to the council dozens of signatures in opposition to a proposed Class 4 landfill. 
(Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin)
Dexter Brunson, on behalf of the Pinebergen Community, presented to the council dozens of signatures in opposition to a proposed Class 4 landfill. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin)

Several dozen residents of the Pinebergen Community showed up at this week's city council meeting to object to a Class 4 landfill being put in their area, and their opposition was so effective, the landfill is apparently not being considered now.

Robert Knott, the owner of Delta Recycling Services, proposed the Class 4 landfill to Mayor Shirley Washington and the Pine Bluff City Council last month as a way for the city to save money while offering customers a better service.

Dexter Brunson, on behalf of the Pinebergen Community, which is outside the city limits off of Highway 63 South, presented to the council more than 100 signatures of people opposed to the proposed landfill. The petition was also sent to Jefferson County Quorum Court and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

"We the Pinebergen and surrounding communities strongly oppose any further planning and all developmental stages of a proposed landfill in or bordering our community," he said. "The proposed landfill would be less than one mile from a community cemetery where resident's loved ones are resting and directly behind the homes and right across the street from my pasture which contains several heads of cattle."

In order for Knott to move forward with the landfill, he would have to get a certificate of need and present it to the ADEQ in order to do a preliminary operational plan for a Class 4, which can only accept certain types of waste, such as construction material, furniture, tree limbs and leaves.

Knott would need a letter of support from both the city and the county to submit to the Southeast Arkansas Regional Solid Waste Management District, which would then be asked to issue a certificate of need.

Once the certificate is received, then all of the environmental impact studies would be put together, along with the preliminary operating plan, and submitted to the state Division of Environment Quality.

"They will come down and do some testing to verify what the engineers have already found," Knott said. "The engineer will write a final draft that will be returned back to ADEQ, and they will write the letter for public notice, and construction will begin after the publication."

Brunson said on July 24, Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and Knott met for a town hall meeting with the Pinebergen residents.

"During that meeting residents clearly voiced their concerns for health and environmental risk," said Brunson. "Bayou Bartholomew, Sandy Creek and Steep Bank Creek run in the heart of our community. These three waterways are vital and contain endangered species of fish and wildlife."

According to Brunson, the proposed landfill is unwanted in the community, considering residents have one speed sign, side streets with no visible markers, no community lighting and daily semi-truck traffic.

"Our children attend the Pine Bluff School District and play in the neighborhood with no type of signs saying 'slow down' 'children at play' or 'school bus route,' said Brunson. "Our ditches are not maintained and residents have to call county officials just to have them mowed."

Brunson said a landfill would add to the nuisance that the residents face from the objectionable odor from the Tyson Foods chicken house less than a mile south of Pinebergen Road.

"We thought Pine Bluff was about building communities and making them stronger, especially the Pinebergen Community with its long generational history and value," said Brunson. "Again we the Pinebergen residents oppose the landfill or any city, county and state proposal that will change any part of our community environmental geographical overlay that will cause additional distress to our residents."

Mayor Washington and the council members applauded the community for the turnout and for standing up for their community.

"We wish more people would do the same," said Washington.

Alderman Bruce Lockett said he recently spoke with Knott, who told him he would not be moving forward with his landfill proposal.

"I spoke to Mr. Knott and he told me the landfill idea was going to be tabled indefinitely," said Lockett. "It was something he did not want to pursue in light of all the opposition."

A roar of cheer and applause could be heard in the audience after Lockett's comments were made.

As far as the street signage issues, Alderman Glen Brown Jr. advised a call be made to the county.

"That will get solved a lot faster if you go through Quorum Court and they can get with the Road Department," said Brown. "A lot of those things can be solved with Quorum Court."