ADEM holds public hearing to hear concerns about Dothan landfill expansion

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Mar. 1, 2019 at 1:53 AM CST
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Dothan city leaders have been looking to expand the city's landfill for years. Thursday night, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management got public input before making decisions.

People living near the landfill are worried about how a landfill expansion would affect their quality of life.

City officials want to see the expansion happen to save quite a bit of money and make trash disposal simpler.

Ultimately, no one is happy about the situation, which is why the Alabama Department of Environmental Management wanted to have a public hearing before making any decisions about the city's permit.

"The biggest problem is that there are buzzards and the smell," said Buford Hogan, who lives near the landfill.

Buford Hogan has been living near the Dothan landfill on Burkett Road for decades.

Since 2014, that landfill has been full, and the city has been trying to expand it.

The city purchased 182 acres to expand the landfill in March of 2014, and the commission approved the expansion soon after.

Hogan is worried the city won't listen to his concerns before they make changes.

"Live there for 40 years and retired,” said Hogan. “Now what? I can't start up and buy a new house and all that stuff because it's too expensive."

Hogan isn't alone. In February of 2016, people living near the landfill filed a complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency, saying the expansion would be discriminatory since most of the people living nearby are minorities.

Since then, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has gone back and forth with giving the city a permit, and most recently the city decided to have the permit renewal and modification discussion in one meeting.

"Offensive odors are a problem,” said a member of the public at the meeting. “They interfere with outdoor activities."

Because the landfill has been full for nearly 5 years, the city has been paying a private company to haul waste to Campbellton, which isn't cheap.

"It costs the city over a million dollars a year basically to not be able to have this landfill and have this use of it, so that's why we're trying to get this permit and get moving forward with this project,” said Dothan Public Works Director Charles Metzger.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management will take into consideration everything they heard tonight when figuring out the city's permit for expanding the land fill.

Metzger thinks additional acres in the possible expansion would take anywhere from 25 to 40 years to fill up.