What's next for Cumberland County's potential Ann Street landfill expansion?

With an open house and public comment period in the rearview mirror, Cumberland County officials are moving to the next phase in the potential expansion of the Ann Street landfill.

The landfill, which opened in 1980, is projected to run out of space by 2030, officials said. According to the county's Department of Solid Waste, because permitting processes and construction can take several years, the process of expanding the landfill must start now in an effort to extend the life of the landfill by 20 years.

The county hosted an open house on March 2 giving residents an opportunity to meet with staff from Solid Waste and to learn more about the landfill. At the open house, a model showing the layers of a landfill was displayed, and a television and computer were set up so attendees could enter their addresses to see how close their homes are to the landfill.

A garbage truck moves along a dirt road after dumping a load of waste at the Ann Street Landfill on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.
A garbage truck moves along a dirt road after dumping a load of waste at the Ann Street Landfill on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

Stella Green attended the open house with her teenage daughter. Her family has lived on Irene Street, which intersects with Ann Street, for 15 years, Green said.

Green said she has reservations about the potential expansion.

“We’re nervous about it,” she said.

Green said that currently, she can sometimes smell the landfill, especially in the summer, and often sees large trash trucks speeding through her neighborhood as they travel to and from the landfill. Speed bumps have not mitigated the issue, she said.

Amanda Bader, the director of Solid Waste, spoke with Green and others who attended the open house.

She said speaking with residents like Green who may be worried about the expansion is a crucial part of her job.

“We want to start this conversation,” Bader said, handing a stack of comment forms to Green for her neighbors.

Related:7 years to fix it: Cumberland County hosting open house on Ann Street landfill’s future

According to an environmental justice report submitted by county officials, the landfill is in a "heavy industrial area" near railroad tracks and a wastewater treatment plant, but at least 27 churches, five schools and a senior living home are located near the landfill. Eighty-seven percent of residents living within a mile of the landfill are non-white, the report states.

"Data from the Demographic Study Area and 1-Mile Study Area show significantly larger proportions of Black residents (76 percent in the 1-Mile Study Area) when compared to the state and county," the report says. "The share of Black residents within the 1-Mile Study Area exceeded both the state and county share by a difference greater than 10 percent."

Concerns like Green's about the smell of the landfill are common, but the landfill is not as malodorous as most people might expect, Bader said at the open house. During a tour of the landfill March 15, a smell was only discerned at its very top, with Bader joking a nearby dog food plant is more often responsible for foul odors.

Though the public comment period technically closed March 17, Bader said residents are welcome to call, email or send in letters with comments, questions and concerns at any time. The county also can arrange tours of the landfill, she said.

Plans ahead

A tractor moves and compacts waste at the construction and demo site at the Ann Street Landfill on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.
A tractor moves and compacts waste at the construction and demo site at the Ann Street Landfill on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

Should the expansion begin, the Department of Solid Waste intends to build a transfer station at the landfill that will temporarily collect solid waste to be taken to a landfill outside of the county while workers mine a balefill for useable soil and compost to cover new trash with, according to the department’s website. A balefill is an old, unlined landfill where waste was compacted into bales. Landfills are now required to be lined with clay and plastic, the department said.

The next step in possibly expanding the landfill is to conduct a pilot study to estimate how much soil can be recovered from the balefill and how long it might take to fully mine each area, Bader said at the open house. That study should take place around the end of March, she said, with plans the findings to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners after the study is complete.

The data from the study will also be released to the public, Bader said. As for where waste will be transferred while the balefills are being mined, the department will have a better idea of potential locations and possible costs to taxpayers in the coming months, she said.

Public safety reporter Lexi Solomon can be reached at ABSolomon@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Cumberland County eyeing next steps in Ann Street landfill expansion