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It didn’t take long for county council chambers to fill up Thursday night.
When the room was packed full, the crowd spilled out in the hallway. When there was nowhere to stand, dozens of residents crowded the first floor lobby.
All this for a meeting that was essentially canceled only hours before.
In all, more than 220 residents showed up for a Board of Zoning Appeals meeting at the county Administration Building on Thursday, according to staff members of the county’s emergency management and fire service.
A public hearing had been set for 6:30 p.m. for comments on the proposed expansion of the Mining Road Landfill just off Flat Creek Road (S.C. 903), to include a Class 3 solid waste landfill.
But in an email sent at about 4 p.m. Thursday to the Lancaster County Planning Department and The Lancaster News, among others, Mike Griffin of Griffin Brothers Enterprises, which owns the landfill property, withdrew the expansion application.
“Due to Griffin Brothers inability to fully understand the ramifications of Tuesday night’s County Council actions, we have withdrawn our application,” Griffin said in the email. “Therefore, we have requested that the BZA hearing regularly scheduled for tonight be canceled.”
Griffin was referencing an ordinance council passed Tuesday night which changed required landfill buffers from 1,000 feet to 1 mile from residences, schools and churches. Council had reduced that buffer requirement last year from 1 mile to 1,000 feet.
The BZA still met at its scheduled time. It accepted the agenda without the Griffin Brothers application, approved the minutes and adjourned. The meeting lasted less than 15 minutes.
County planning director Chris Karres said the issue isn’t dead and Griffin Brothers has a chance to resubmit its application.
“By withdrawing the application, they (Griffin Brothers) now have to wait six months before they can submit a new application,” Karres said.
Despite the withdrawal, hundreds of residents showed up anyway, many out of distrust of county officials.
After the meeting adjourned, many left with smiles on their faces, but believed the story isn’t over.
“It ain’t over,” said Kershaw Town Administrator Tony Starnes as he left council chambers. “They’ll be back, but it’s good what happened tonight.”
Lancaster resident George Mungo agreed with him.
“They (Griffin Brothers) are just going to back up and regroup,” Mungo said. “It’s not over. The fat lady ain’t sung yet.”
Standing in the hallway as the crowd dispersed after the meeting, Taxahaw resident Don Faile was happy with the night’s result.
“I think it’s great, I think it’s great,” Faile said. “We’re coming together not just as one community but with all the communities in Lancaster County.”
Faile worries it’s only a matter of time before the Griffin Brothers resubmit their application.
“If this dump goes to Lancaster County, then we’re finished with economic development here,” he said. “Who would want to move here?”
Michael Greene, who owns a 100-acre tract about two miles from the landfill, said he hopes it’s over, but believes there will be legal battles still to come.
He credits the withdrawal of the application to the efforts of his fellow county residents.
“There was a lot of hard work by a lot of people,” Greene said. “I’ve heard it described as David and Goliath and I think that’s pretty accurate.”
“When this process started, it started in the dark and through all this process, we’ve cut the lights on,” he said.