Apr 10, 2023 - Climate

Charlotte neighbors fight planned landfill in their backyard

kelly road landfill Alexandria Sands Sanders Utility Construction

kelly road landfill Alexandria Sands Sanders Utility Construction

A usually quiet community in northwest Charlotte is getting loud about unpopular plans for a landfill next to their homes.

Why it matters: Neighbors in the Oakdale area are concerned about their property values, quality of life and environmental impacts if plans for a landfill go through.

  • “There’s gonna be dust. There’s gonna be noise pollution. There’s gonna be smells,” says resident Daniel Campbell. “This material’s going to decompose. There’s going to be exhaust from the trucks, hundreds of trucks … right along our property. The wildlife that’s there now is going to be disrupted. The concerns are endless for us.”

Driving the news: The City of Charlotte is working to change its zoning regulations in light of this planned landfill. Right now, inert debris and land-clearing landfills, known as LCIDs, are allowed in numerous zoning districts, including residential ones.

  • If council approves the changes, the city would only permit LCID landfills in one zoning category under certain conditions.

Yes, but: It may be too late for the residents of Oakdale. The landfill proposed nearby will be grandfathered into the old ordinance and is thus allowed by right.

  • The city is working with the owner of the property on a permit now and needs to ensure standards in the current code are met. Then the owner can seek approval from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

State of play: City council member James Mitchell says the city didn’t realize this ordinance was still on the books. He has contacted the state and legislatures about the situation.

  • Rezonings for landfills like this are rare, according to the city. There are only a handful of LCID landfills in Mecklenburg County.
  • Another landfill already exists close by. Locals have infamously dubbed it “Mt. Kelly” or “Kelly Mountain,” Campbell says.

Details: The land in question, at 3000 Kelly Road, is zoned residential and owned by Sanders Partnership LLC. The permit applicant is Dew Green LCID, an LLC associated with Sanders Utility. The company is a contractor for Charlotte Water.

  • The operators of the landfill would spread dirt from development sites across roughly 20 to 30 acres of the 60-acre site, city planning project manager Solomon Fortune tells me.

Of note: Dew Green LCID did not respond to a request for comment.

What they’re saying: Campbell’s home borders the property. He says he can see the majority of the land from his backyard. “It’s a very, very intimate, very, very close setting,” he says.

  • Campbell adds that he and other neighborhood representatives from Kelly Road, Pleasant Oaks Circle and the Sutton Farms neighborhood met with the land owners to compromise. The neighbors asked for more buffering and trees between their homes and the landfill.
  • They also asked the owners to lay a liner under the debris and relocate a planned road to the opposite end of the property, away from their homes.

The owner rejected the suggestions, Campbell said.

The proposed changes to the city’s zoning code include a rule that all LCID landfills must be lined. But those changes wouldn’t apply to the proposed landfill along Kelly Road.

  • “How can you prove over 10 to 15 years that materials aren’t going to leach out of this landfill into our water supply?” Campbell asks. “If we have to test the water every year, we will. But it’s hard for us to swallow that they would think dumping millions of tons of material onto this site … and over years that’s not going to leach.”

Zoom in: Residents are also concerned about co-locating a landfill with a potentially historic house, at the corner of Pleasant Grove and Kelly roads. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission has hired a consultant to write a report about the property, although it could take six months or longer to deem the site a landmark.

  • Stewart Gray, county historic resources program manager, says he could tell from initial observations the house was worth studying, regardless of the landfill proposal.
historic house kelly road landfill Alexandria Sands
This house may be one of few historic resources in the area, Gray says. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios
  • “Just from doing a view from the road, I thought it looked very promising,” Gray says. “It appeared to be a 19th-century house. Possibly antebellum (based on the chimney construction) … It stands out very prominently in that suburban area.”
  • Gray says the property owner, Sanders Partnership LLC, has been supportive of the commission’s efforts.

What’s next: NCDEQ must approve permits for solid waste management facilities. “If a permit is denied, then the agency is required to tell the applicant what they must fix to obtain a permit,” according to an NCDEQ spokesperson.

  • Neighbors may seek legal counsel at some point, Campbell says. So far, he believes the residents’ resistance has been effective at the city level. The permit, submitted last year, hasn’t been approved yet.

“We’re not resigned to just let (the landfill) happen,” Campbell says. “We’re gonna not leave any stone unturned.”


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