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Dallas Approves Controversial Landfill Plan


By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – The Dallas City Council is going ahead with a controversial plan to require all "Dallas" commercial trash to go into the city's McCommas Bluff landfill, south of downtown. That's expected to raise more than 15 million dollars a year in dumping fees for the city. But KERA's BJ Austin says some neighbors and other landfill operators don't like it.

Outside Dallas City Hall before the vote, dozens of students from Paul Quinn College marched in protest of the plan to route more waste into the landfill - about two miles from campus. Paul Quinn President Michael Sorrell says that area needs to attract retail, small business and jobs. He says a busier landfill may not help. He worried that no one has analyzed the consequences.

Sorrell: This is a decision that could fundamentally alter the community that it surrounds forever.

Sorrell and several city council members wanted to delay a vote while an appointed task force looked at consequences and alternatives. That motion failed by one vote. Mayor Mike Rawlings argued against a delay - saying part of the additional landfill revenue will go to a new Southeast Oak Cliff Investment fund to spark development.

Rawlings: We have real money here, a million dollars. We could clean up that land. We could have a grocery store quickly. And for me, as the Mayor, to sit here and say we need to study something longer - I'm telling you, I just don't buy it.

The vote to approve Flow Control was 9 to 6.

The National Solid Waste Management Association opposes it. Some members who own regional landfills stand to lose business and money under the plan. Industry spokesman David Margulies warned the council that the plan could end up costing the city.

Margulies: And the history of flow control is that it leads to litigation. The last case, I believe, took 14 years to wind its way through the courts. And the government agency that had that case, that was sued, spent a million dollars.

Mayor Rawlings says Dallas taxpayers deserve the revenue from "Dallas" trash. Councilman Tennell Atkins, whose district includes the landfill, says "flow control" could lead to a major recycling center and economic opportunity for the area. But, colleague Vonciel Jones Hill is not so sure.

Hill: I do not believe that putting more trash in the South leads to economic development or a better quality of life.

Mayor Rawlings says he will create a task force of local business, neighbors, and waste industry experts to work out implementation of the plan.

Email BJ Austin