Crowds give ADEM earful

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 18, 2003

Cars were wedged so tightly into the parking lot of R.C. Hatch High School Thursday night you couldn’t leave without asking someone to move a car first.

The gymnasium was just as crowded. Residents of Uniontown and surrounding areas piled into the bleachers on Thursday to hear public comments about a proposed landfill just a few miles southeast of town.

The public forum was moderated by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Scott Hughes, a spokesman for ADEM, said the meeting’s purpose was to give people a chance to voice their comments on the proposed

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Two court reporters clicked away on their stenograph machines as speakers took their turn at the podium.

Hughes said that once all the comments had been reviewed a decision on whether or not to approve the landfill permit would be made.

Speakers were given only five minutes for comments, though heckling from the crowd appeared to allow the speaker more time.

One man &045;&045; a supporter of the landfill &045;&045; lashed out when the crowd booed his statement that Perry County needed the landfill.

Another landfill supporter, Earl Parker of Selma, said three geologists had recommended the landfill be placed in the proposed area because of the chalk present.

Landfill supporters, though, were in the minority.

Maria Hill of Uniontown said she owned a farm close to the proposed site of the landfill.

Hill also questioned why a number of different states needed to use Alabama to dump their garbage.

According to Scott Hughes, ADEM spokesman, the landfill would be licensed to receive solid waste from states including New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island, among others.

Susan Copeland, an attorney representing residents opposed to the landfill, said a potential cemetery in the landfill’s area is shown on maps.

Mary Schafer, another landfill opponent, said the Perry County Commission originally stated the landfill would handle only 1,500 tons of trash per day. Last September, though, the commission changed its mind and submitted an amended application that would allow the landfill to accept up to 7,500 tons per day.

Perry County didn’t have a need for a landfill that big, Schafer said.

Johnny Flowers, chairman of the Perry County Commission, said the landfill has been in the works for 14 years.