Culver withdraws landfill land proposal

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver this week withdrew his request for County Council to approve buying land, known as the Potts Property, for $2.5 million, after Council members called for an “iron clad” stipulation preventing the property from ever being used for landfill expansion into West Salisbury neighborhoods.

After several West Side residents spoke against that possibility, at the Oct. 30 Council meeting, Councilman Ernie Davis, who represents the area, opposed passing the resolution that would allow purchase of the property, because protecting westside neighborhoods was not “etched in stone.”

“I’m against it,” he said about the resolution.

Councilman Joe Holloway asked Council Attorney Paul Wilber and County Administrator Wayne Strausburg to find a way to “iron clad this thing, so it can never be changed.”

On Monday, Culver announced he withdrew the request.

Assistant County Administrator Weston Young told the Salisbury Independent Culver’s decision was based on three issues: Council insisted expansion never go in that direction, thereby tying the hands of future Councils, which the executive office considered short-sighted; Council was not willing to compromise and agree that expansion could take place in 10 or 20 years and; spending $2.5 million on land that could only be used for soil, to cover layers of trash every day, would not be a wise economic move.

Young said the current landfill will last about 22 more years, longer if recycling increases.

“If we expand south, which we still plan to do, it is estimated to give us 30 years of additional life. That puts the estimated life of our landfill closer to 52 years. If we would have been able to go north (toward the west side), that would have added 50 years instead of 30. If we did both, it would give us 102 years,” Young said.

“We are still going to focus on our recycling rate. We hope in 50 years there will be new technologies, affordable, tested technologies” so the county isn’t forced to truck trash out of the county once the current landfill is full.

Culver, on Monday, said he fears “the landfill will not last the 22 years, which was an optimistic projection.”

“With the population growth over the last five years there is concern the county landfill won’t last even 20 years,” Culver said.

During the Oct. 30 public hearing, Mrs. Lewis Watson, representing her husband, said she is concerned about landfill expansion at the corner of Route 50 and Naylor Mill Road because toxins and pollutants from the landfill could create health hazards and contaminate the groundwater.

The Rev. George Copeland repeated residents’ concerns.

“We are praying we can set this in stone, regardless of who sits in the seats that you are now in, that you can guarantee it will not be a landfill because it will affect our neighbors. Do unto others as you want them to do unto you,” he said.

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