Solid Waste Authority recommends approval of Cleveland tire landfill request

By a 3-to-1 vote, with one member absent, the Blount County Solid Waste Authority voted to recommend to the Blount County Commission its approval of B&B Tire Landfill’s application to open a tire landfill disposal facility near Cleveland. The proposed landfill site is located in an abandoned strip mine pit about 3/8 of a mile north of Hazelrig Road, off County Highway 1, roughly two road miles from the Cleveland old town center.

Voting in favor of the application were Authority members Paul Wilson, Jimmy Buckner, and Denny Armstrong. Member Arthur (Buddy) Self voted against it. Member Swanee Carver was absent.

After a public meeting lasting nearly two hours, board members went into executive session to discuss the matter among themselves, returning in about 10 minutes. When they returned, Wilson made the motion to approve the application, Buckner seconded, and a majority consisting of three members of the quorum of four present approved the motion to recommend approval to the Blount County Commission.

The recommendation will be made to the commission at its Monday, Dec. 10 business meeting, at which time the commission is expected to vote to approve or deny the application.

Much of the discussion at the meeting centered on use of public roads by the additional 20 or so tire-hauling trucks that would travel them daily, and the implications for public safety of the increase in truck traffic volume. District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert made an impassioned case for the need for a comprehensive engineering traffic study. Since most of the discussion focused on the Hazelrig Road/ County Highway 1 intersection, presumably that was the main focus of his remarks, although they would apply as well to the intersection of County Highway 1, Ala 160, and U.S. 231 in Cleveland, another potential trouble spot for the mix of traffic from the general public and tire-hauling trucks traveling to and from the tire landfill.

According to Brett King, attorney for B&B Tire Landfill, such a study would only prove what is already known – that the traffic increase attributable to B&B tire haulers would be a small, single-digit percentage increase on a volume basis.

Calvert said that the state-mandated approval process omits any requirement to provide the decision-making body – the county commission, of which he is a member – with the hard data it needs to make an informed decision relating to public safety both now, and more importantly over the coming years as traffic from both the general public and the tire landfill operation increases. He suggested that failure leaves the county commission in the lurch from the standpoint of liability for traffic-related problems that may occur over time.

An additional road issue concerns Cleveland Mayor Jerry Jones’ stated intention to enforce the town’s ordinances limiting the use of its residential roads – which includes Hazelrig Road – to light-duty vehicles, thus prohibiting their use to B&B’s trucks. B&B attorney King said an agreement in principal has been reached with the property owner at the disputed intersection of Hazelrig Road and County Highway 1 to grant additional right-of-way needed to solve the road-use controversy. It could be resolved either of two ways:

• by simply building a new access road paralleling the short 700 to 800 feet of Hazelrig Road needed for B&B’s access, thus completely obviating the use of Hazelrig Road by B&B’s tire-hauling trucks, or

• by providing the additional right-of-way needed to widen Hazelrig Road itself to safely permit two-way traffic and to relocate the water line beneath the road, thus eliminating many technical objections to its use by tire-hauling trucks.

According to King, efforts have been made to resolve Jones’ objections to B&B’s use of Hazelrig Road. The outcome is unclear at this time, perhaps yet to be determined.