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The details behind a cryptic county ordinance were revealed last week, as county officials announced preliminary plans for a county landfill.
At a special meeting Wednesday, County Council unanimously approved final reading of the ambiguously named Project December, an economic development ordinance that was fast-tracked through a number of special council meetings over the last few weeks.
Council unanimously approved the first two readings of the ordinance at special meetings on Dec. 17 and Dec. 21.
The ordinance establishes a host agreement between the county and Waste Management. As part of that agreement, the Houston-based waste company would convert a construction and demolition landfill at Mineral Mine off S.C. 903 to a landfill for solid waste disposal, including household trash. The property is now owned and operated by Griffin Brothers Enterprises.
As part of the agreement, Waste Management would also provide free disposal of all residential solid waste generated in Lancaster County. This includes trash brought to convenience sites, collected from the three municipalities or transported by private haulers.
The county spends about $35 or more per ton of garbage transported and dumped at the Lee County landfill, which is more than 75 miles from the county.
County Administrator Steve Willis said the agreement could save the county about $500,000 in annual tipping fees, which are costs now paid to the Lee County landfill. There would also be a savings on transportation costs, Willis said.
Waste Management would also be responsible for paying a host fee to Lancaster County based on waste tonnage, Willis said.
Other stipulations of the agreement include construction of two-state-of-the-art convenience sites, the banning of hazardous waste dumping and a promise from Waste Management that the landfill would never become a “mega-dump” and would only collect trash from the Carolinas.
Waste Management also pledged to make a good faith effort to hire Lancaster County residents at the facility, Willis said.
Also at the meeting, council unanimously approved an ordinance to amend several sections of the county code relating to convenience centers, recycling facilities, landfills and waste processing facilities.
The ordinance was needed to clean up outdated language in the county’s code and meet regulations from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. County Council had to do this before it could proceed with the agreement with Waste Management.
While council has approved an agreement with Waste Management on the landfill, the company will have to get approval from the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals and DHEC to convert the site to a solid waste landfill.
Willis said it could take some time before the new landfill is operational.
“The whole point of the host agreement was so that if DHEC says, ‘Yes, they can have the landfill,’ then council has already given its input,” Willis said.
The county has three years left on its contract to dispose trash in Lee County, Willis said.
Council members had also hoped to hear final reading on Project Football at last week’s special meeting. It is another unspecified economic development ordinance under consideration by council. But because paperwork for the agreement wasn’t finalized, council will have to begin the ordinance process again in 2011, as it cannot cross over into a new council year.
“The county attorneys are still working on it,” Willis said. “They’ll just have to start again in the new year.”
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 416-8416