Proposed Landfill Being Reconsidered in Jonesboro

August 12, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:10pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR - Members of the Jonesboro Public Works Committee met Thursday afternoon with the Executive Director of the Craighead County Solid Waste Disposal Authority. The county currently takes all Class 1 waste -- that's household trash. Now some alderman want the City Council to consider having Class 4 waste also taken to the county dump. That bulky material, such as construction trash and appliances, is accepted at the current Class 4 landfill. This new development is welcomed news to residents living near the current city landfill.

"We're just happy that the new city council has really taken our issue to heart, and that they have listened to what we've had to say, and they've listened to our concerns about the possible hazards of living close to a landfill," said Debbie Hazlewood, who lives on Strawfloor Road with her husband.

Not developing the city-owned land near the current landfill into the next Class 4 landfill would not only move waste dumping away from Hazlewood and her neighbors, it would also save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Chris Moore, a Jonesboro Alderman, said, "The City of Jonesboro would save $278,000 a year by contracting with the Solid Waste Authority to take our debris. When you factor in the cost of operating a new landfill, that figure raises to somewhere around $700,000 a year in savings."

Shawki Al-Madhoun is the engineer who has been working on the proposed sight for 4 years. Al-Madhoun said it's a good sight and would have worked. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality did issue a permit in May of 2003. However, Al-Madhoun admitted the city could have picked a better sight.

"For example, if people say the proposed sight is too close to the city, so you can do better by going away from the city. Some arguments were that the sight is unsightly from the highway," explained Shawki Al-Madhoun.

Chris Moore said the city will continue to maintain the landfill permit until a decision is made.

"The City of Jonesboro, when they applied for the permit, was going to be the first city in the State of Arkansas to open a new landfill within the city limits in 10 years," added Moore. "I would be ecstatic for us not to set that record."

If the waste ends up being sent to the county, Moore said the proposed landfill sight would likely be sold. Debbie Hazlewood said that would mean a quieter and safer neighborhood.

"It's mostly about the environment," explained Hazlewood. "It's about, you know, we all come out a winner when we do something for the environment, and that was our concern to begin with and our concern about living around this facility."

It will be about a week-and-a-half before Craighead County Solid Waste Disposal Authority members can meet. They'll come up with a proposal, meet with the City's Finance Committee and then take a recommendation to the City Council for a vote.