Board votes to amend dump law

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to amend astrict county dumping ordinance to allow for beneficial fillpermits after a concerned citizen approached the board seekingpermission to gather concrete waste from a demolition site onBrookway Boulevard.

The amendment, currently being drawn up by the board attorney,will allow non-hazardous material such as concrete, gravel, asphaltand dirt to be collected from demolition sites for use onbeneficial fill projects. Essentially, those are projects that usethe materials as foundation, as fill material, for erosionstoppage.

Previously, the county dumping ordinance, passed in 1999, had noexclusion clause, a stipulation that created a week’s worth ofhavoc for BH and A Enterprises owner Bill Ricks, who was suddenlyinformed that he was in violation of county law for collectingconcrete chunks from a local demolition site.

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“I stopped up there and asked for the leftover concrete, andthey said, ‘Sure,'” Ricks said. “I only live about four miles fromthe site, and they were having to haul it all the way to Magnolia.They started bringing it to me; then someone told the contractor tostop.”

Ricks said he was visited by officials from the MississippiDepartment of Environmental Quality, who informed him he was inviolation of the law. After proving to the DEQ that the material hewas gathering was non-hazardous, and being used for an erosioncontrol project – a levy that holds back a lake on his property -Ricks received the department’s nod.

With DEQ approval, Ricks sought similar permission from thecounty, only to learn that no variances from the dumping ordinancewere available.

Board attorney Bob Allen explained that the ordinance waswritten to control litter and unlawful dumps, requiring thatcitizens and businesses use only one of two options – countygarbage services or contracting with an approved garbage company.The ordinance left no middle ground.

“The ordinance was designed that way to prevent people fromusing their property as dumping sites,” Allen said. “Basically, ifanyone is doing construction work the contractor has to take thewaste to a licensed landfill. Apparently, DEQ issued a permit ofsome sort saying that Mr. Ricks’ concrete pile qualifies as atemporary beneficial fill project.”

After a lengthy discussion, supervisors decided to allow Ricksand others collecting construction/demolition waste for similar,beneficial projects to proceed only with DEQ approval.

“Once they are permitted by DEQ for that purpose, the countywill make an exception,” Allen said. “Basically, it’s a trackingmethod for the county, so that the supervisors know what’s going onand that it’s been approved by the state.”

Allen said the amendment would require DEQ approval beforecounty approval to ensure that no one collected hazardous materialsand stored them on unapproved sites.

“If they have asbestos or certain types of rubbish, these dumpsites can present health problems,” Allen said. “That’s the wholepurpose of the dumping ordinance. Like any ordinance we have, it’smandated by the state and federal governments.”

Allen said the penalty for violating the ordinance, orstretching the forthcoming amendment, can result in expensiverestitution.

“The ordinance itself calls for a $50 fine for the firstoffense, $250 for the second and $500 for the third,” he said.”That doesn’t include the cost of having it all removed. If youdump something illegally, you have to pay to get it removed, or thecounty will remove it for you and send you a bill.”

Allen said there likely would be no charge for acquiring acounty permit for collecting the beneficial fill materials – onlyDEQ approval.

“The purpose is to ensure our ordinance is enforced andregulated,” he said. “It is not a money-making scheme.”

Actually, it’s just the opposite. District Four Supervisor DougMoak pointed out that using non-hazardous construction waste wasfor fill projects is far cheaper than the alternatives. Thesupervisors often gather these materials for their ownprojects.

“If you bought a lot of rip-rap (large stones, such as indrainage reservoirs), that’s pretty expensive,” Moak said. “We canget the leftover concrete pretty much for free, except for the costof hauling it. It’s a lot more economical for us to go thatroute.”

Moak said the amendment was also ease the burden on contractorswho have to travel long distances to dispose of their site’swaste.

“The contractors need a place to dispose of things like that andit would benefit certain people in the community that need thatkind of filler,” Moak said. “I did not realize our ordinance was asstrict as it was. I personally thought it would be a good idea toaccommodate the DEQ’s beneficial fill policies.”