Subdivision proposed for landfill site

Published 1:48 pm Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Cumberland County Planning Commission held a discussion during its Monday meeting regarding an application for a subdivision where planners expressed concerns about the consequences of rezoning a property from an industrial purpose to an agricultural purpose and potential conflicts with the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

The commission requested in November that the proposal — which plans for the development to be at the site of the once-planned and now defunct Allied/Republic landfill — “be deferred until the legal issues are resolved, or until the statutory time limits are going to be met.”

The proposed parcel that would contain the Mill Race subdivision, according to commission documents, was the subject of a public hearing before the commission last November.

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The proposed location is close to Almond Lane, off of French’s Store Road, according to commission documents.

The proposed landfill area was set to encompass about 1,200 acres, with approximately 215 acres originally planned for a disposal area.

The proposed Mill Race subdivision would encompass about 67 acres.

The county entered into a 20-year host community agreement with Republic Services in 2006, allowing the firm to construct the landfill in the county.

The agreement included annual payments of $500,000 from the firm to the county.

In February 2015, the county reportedly accepted a $2.5 million payment from Republic “as part of the host community agreement.”

Republic, upon a contract termination, must give the county 90 days’ notice and must pay a “liquidated damages fee” of $2.5 million. The contract between Republic and the county was reportedly terminated in February 2015.

According to commission documents, litigation regarding the host agreement is still pending.

Vivian Seay Giles

According to County Administrator and County Attorney Vivian Seay Giles and Planning Director/Zoning Administrator Sara Carter, the applicant, John Godsey, requested a 90-day deferral from the original deadline of Nov. 9 for the county’s decision on the subdivision application.

This would mean, according to Giles and Carter, that the commission would have until the last meeting of the year to make a decision, in order to give the board of supervisors time to consider the proposal and hold a public hearing prior to February, the new deadline.

The subdivision application requests a rezoning of the property from M-2, a General Industrial District, to A-2, an Agricultural District, using a conditional use permit.

The application was completed Nov. 9, 2016, according to commission documents.

The properties were originally rezoned to M-2 from A-2 following a conditional use permit for the landfill site, according to Carter.

Giles noted “a host of issues, or problems” relating to the proposed rezoning for the subdivision.

“It is part of the property that was rezoned at the request of the applicant as a condition precedent to the host agreement, and the rezoning to its current zoning status was in fact a condition precedent to the host agreement itself,” Giles said of the property. “So to unravel that, therein lies my apprehension.”

Giles noted that there were zoning issues, in addition to concerns about the host agreement, that the board and commission would need to discuss. 

District Three Representative and Commission Chairman Dr. William Burger said rezoning the property would mean the county could potentially lose a site for business.

“If we were to rezone this, this would be the first time that I can think of that we would be taking a piece of property … for manufacture and (moving) it back to agriculture,” Burger said. “We would actually be losing a piece of property that’s zoned for business.”

Carter noted the request would create conflict with the county’s 2013 Comprehensive Plan. The land parcel and the potential rezoning request, according to commission documents, would not be in line with the Comprehensive Plan’s goal of creating economic opportunity and “wise and efficient utilization of lands.”

Commission documents note the property as designated for industrial use to the north and west of the proposed rezoning. For the south and east sides of the site, according to the board packet, the land is not located in a growth area.