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Dad fights Chesterfield landfill: ‘When we’re not paying attention, things happen’

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Dan Wolf likes to stay informed about what is happening in his west Chesterfield County community. He grew concerned when he learned recently that elected county officials voted 3-2 to approve the expansion of a Moseley-area landfill near his daughter's school -- Grange Hall Elementary.

"I had no idea this was going on," Wolf said about the September vote. "This is a great example of where, when we're not paying attention, things happen that change your community for the worse."

The Skinquarter Landfill is hidden from view off Hull Street Road in the fast-growing Moseley area. But the expansion site sits less than a mile from Grange Hall and several new subdivisions.

Skinquarter Landfill

The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors approved landfill zoning for this area 30 years ago, when Moseley looked a lot different

"It was rural," Matoaca District Supervisor Steve Elswick said. "I'm not so sure that the board in 1988 had any idea that the growth would be the way it is today.

Elswick, whose district includes Moseley, was one of the two no votes against the landfill's expansion application.

The landfill plans to expand from holding tree waste to construction and demolition debris as well.

"What I don't believe is, we should be tied to bad decisions made by a board of supervisors 30 years ago," Wolf said.

But Elswick said state law forbids the board from changing the original zoning decision.

"Once it's zoned, it's zoned," Elswick said.

The main concern for Wolfe -- and others -- is traffic, specifically, the number of trucks driving in and out of the landfill.

"I read the same study, 500-600 trucks, that is insane," Wolf said.

The owners of the landfill pointed to a VDOT report, which found Hull Street Road was more than sufficient to accommodate the traffic increase caused by an expansion.

That study was conducted 11 years ago.

"Some residents have expressed concerns that it's so old and that that part of town is dramatically changing, there's so many more people, so much more traffic there, does the county feel that was recent enough of a study?" CBS 6 Problem Solver Melissa Hipolit asked.

Steve Elswick and Scott Smedley answer questions about the landfill.

Steve Elswick and Scott Smedley answer questions about the landfill.

"The area of concern around 288, Hull Street corridor we do know that there are deficiencies there, and the county is working on improvements to that interchange so there is adequate capacity," Scott Smedley, the Director of Environmental Engineering for Chesterfield County, replied.

Wolf -- and others -- said they were also concerned that some of the new debris will be trucked in from out of state. The permit allows the landfill to accept refuse from sites up to 600 miles away from Chesterfield.

While some neighbors were worried about the environmental and health impacts of the addition of construction waste, the county said those fears were unfounded.

"We did not find any reason that this would be a risk to the public environmentally or safety wise," Smedley said.

Construction waste typically does not produce gas or odors and the landfill will have synthetic top and bottom liners, and a dust suppressant.

Still, Elswick said he hears his constituents concerns, but, at least for now, he's willing to give the landfill the benefit of the doubt.

"I have all the confidence in the world in DEQ and county staff, and I've had a conversation with the operator of the landfill and he ensures he wants to be a good citizen, a good corporate citizen, and that they will run the landfill according to DEQ and county requirements," Elswick said.

Wolf said he and his neighbors will remain on guard.

"I want to raise awareness and try to build up community interest and involvement in keeping an eye on this," Wolf said. "This is a long-term problem."

Dan Wolf

A spokesperson for the county said the county and state would inspect Skinquarter Landfill for compliance at least semi-annually. The company would only be required to inspect five percent of incoming trucks for prohibited waste.

Elswick said he has spoken to the landfill's owner about the traffic concerns, and was told they anticipated about 50-60 trucks per day.

He said opponents of the landfill expansion could only stop it, if they filed a civil lawsuit and convinced a judge that it posed a serious threat to their health or property.

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