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Baxter County’s Quorum Court is set to meet this evening at its usual time. The main focus for this evening’s court session will be discussion over a new ordinance that is designed to outlaw new and reopening landfills in Baxter County.
The ordinance, which was approved by the county’s legislative affairs committee last week, is a direct response to the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District’s attempt to sell NABORS landfill to Lakeshore Recycling Systems, an Illinois based company who has plans to reopen the landfill for new garbage intake.
Ordinance to outlaw new and reopening landfills
During the legislative affairs committee meeting last week, Baxter County Judge Kevin Litty and members of the court unveiled a new proposed ordinance designed to prohibit the development of new or reopening solid waste landfills within the county’s limit.
Also addressed in the meeting were concerns that Lakeshore Recycling Systems and the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District will close the sale of NABORS landfill this week. Litty, one of the waste district’s newest sitting members, said he did think it will happen as LRS is still working to complete several tests as a part of its due diligence.
The newly proposed ordinance passed committee and is expected to be passed via the court’s emergency clause this evening.
David Ethridge, Baxter County’s prosecuting attorney, said he backs the court’s plan to pass the proposed ordinance, but noted that the county could face future litigation by those parties involved in the sale.
“I think there’s potential for litigation,” Ethridge said during yesterday’s meeting. “I serve at the court’s pleasure, the county judge’s pleasure. I have to inform you what I think is a possibility. Do I think that should ever keep the quorum court from acting as they feel like is right for the citizens of Baxter County? Absolutely, not. I have to tell you all there’s potential. I think they’ve got a long way to go to litigate against us, but it’s possible.”
The ordinance prohibiting the development of new or reopening landfills reads as follows:
“BE IT ENACTED BY THE QUORUM COURT OF BAXTER COUNTY, STATE OF ARKANSAS, AN ORDINANCE TO BE ENTITLED:
AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW OR REOPENING OF ANY CLOSED SOLID WASTE LANDFILL IN BAXTER COUNTY, ARKANSAS.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE QUORUM COURT OF BAXTER COUNTY, ARKANSAS THAT:
Article 1: Affirmation. Baxter County is in an area of the State of Arkansas in which the scenic beauty of the Ozark Mountains and water bodies such as Bull Shoals Lake, Norfork Lake and the various streams and rivers of the area contribute in large part to the mental and physical well-being of the citizens of Baxter County, and also are major attractions for people from other parts of the State of Arkansas and the United States to visit Baxter County, and are major contributors to the economy of Baxter County; and
Baxter County, Arkansas is located in a geological area that consists largely of formations of Dolomite and Limestone, both of which are soluble in groundwater. Geological features (fractures, caverns, crevasses, etc.), also known as “karst,” caused by surface and groundwaters are common in the subsurface throughout the city. The solution of such formations is accelerated by the relatively high, near-surface, groundwater flow rates caused by the topographic of the Ozark Mountains. Solution creates channels and cavities along bedding planes, fractures, and joints, and enlarges some open vertical fractures and joints to form deep chasms in the subsurface through which surface waters and groundwaters can easily and quickly flow to aquifers, streams and rivers, transporting contamination from sources on or near the surface of the ground; and
NABORS landfill (“the Landfill”) and its predecessors, located in Baxter County, Arkansas operated for over 40 years until being ordered to close by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in or about 2013, during which time of operation it accepted for landfilling large volumes of waste materials from Baxter County and adjoining counties classified as household, commercial and other waste products, some of which may have contained liquid or soluble hazardous wastes; and
During the time of its operation, various parts or “cells” of the NABORS landfill were filled beyond their design capacity (“overfilled”), and were not properly handled, managed and/or covered, and the Landfill was not properly closed as required by regulatory standards; and
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has taken multiple enforcement actions against the owner/operator of the Landfill to address environmental problems resulting from the operation and management of the Landfill, including the continuous release of leachate into the environment; and
The Landfill is located over karst geography, which is known to be capable of allowing groundwater to rapidly migrate for significant distances, thereby presenting a threat to underground sources of water for human consumption, and to streams, rivers and lakes; and
The overfilling and improper placement of waste materials, the inadequate cover of such materials after placement, and the generation of large quantities of leachate or contaminated waters flowing from the Landfill have the potential for contaminating groundwater and surface waters, including Bull Shoals Lake and Norfork Lake and streams, rivers and other water bodies in Baxter County; and
The reopening of portions of the Landfill for the placement of additional waste materials, would add to the volume of waste materials to be managed, and has the potential for exacerbating the existing problems of leachate generations and management; and
Scientific evidence clearly indicates that locating new or additional landfills or expanding existing landfills in Baxter County would result in many of the same or similar problems that currently exist as a result of the NABORS Landfill due to the features and characteristics of the geology underlying Baxter County; and
Article 2: Designation. The Quorum Court of Baxter County deems the protection of the health, safety, wellbeing, environmental quality and economic prosperity of the citizens of Baxter County to be their primary duty and responsibility;
Article 3: Appropriation. In order to secure the benefits to the public of a coordinated and harmonious development of solid waste management for Baxter County and its environs and to promote the health, safety, economic prosperity, environmental quality and general welfare of the citizens thereof, the Baxter County Quorum Court, in accordance with Rule 22.408(e) of the Rules of Arkansas Pollution Control & Ecology Commission, does hereby prohibit and declare unlawful the following;
The siting, construction or operation of any landfill in Baxter County, Arkansas, not constructed or in operation as of the date of enactment of this Ordinance;
The siting, reopening, expansion, reconstruction or operation of any landfill, or portion, cell or other component of any existing but closed landfill in Baxter County, Arkansas, not constructed or in operation as of the date of enactment of this Ordianance;
Article 4: Emergency Clause. The Quorum Court of Baxter County finds that, due to the previous permitting and siting of landfills in Baxter County and the features and characteristics of the geology underlying Baxter County that are not suitable for the siting of landfills, conditions have been created that cause potential harm to health, safety, economic prosperity, environmental quality and general welfare of the citizens of Baxter County; that an emergency exists in the potential for future landfills or expansion of existing or closed landfills to be developed and operated; and that this Ordinance shall be effective immediately upon its passage by the Quorum Court.
Other court news
In other news, the court will look at appropriating $12,5000 from the special jail fees fund into the jail maintenance and operations budget for 2023. That money will be used to purchase spike strips and light bars for jail vehicles.
The court will also take up an ordinance to appropriate $10,000 from the county general fund into its building and grounds budget. That money will be used to make upgrades to the Baxter County Courthouse.
An additional $1,200 is expected to be appropriated from the general fund into the veteran’s service office’s budget to help support the annual Veterans Office Benefit Fair.
The court will also take up discussion on allowing the county to take up business with Mike Watts for auto body repairs. Watts is married to a county employee and Arkansas law requires that the court grant approval of the business contract.