Chechessee trash transfer-station site opposed by committee

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comNovember 5, 2013 


Land in the Chechessee area that Beaufort County bought earlier this year should not become the site of a trash transfer station, a County Council committee declared Tuesday.

The Natural Resources Committee passed a resolution on a 3-2 vote opposing such a use for the 43.5-acre site, sending it to the full council for consideration Nov. 18. The resolution states formal opposition to a trash-transfer station on the site and directs county administration to identify other uses or buyers for the property.

But the resolution simply means a transfer station might end up in someone else's backyard, according to the two councilmen who voted against the resolution.

In May, the county purchased the site at 97 Chechessee Road off S.C. 170, near the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority office, and announced it might one day become a trash transfer station. The property cost $850,000.

Trash would be hauled from throughout the county to the station, where it would be compacted, baled and loaded onto trucks destined for a landfill. Recyclable materials would be separated, baled and taken to processing facilities.

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For months, residents of the Chechessee area, including those on Callawassie and Spring islands, have told the council they do not want a transfer station near their property.

Councilman Brian Flewelling, who represents the area near the property, drafted the original resolution, which he presented at the last minute at council's Oct. 14 meeting. When council refused to vote on it then, Flewelling promised to bring it to the Natural Resources Committee, of which he is chairman.

"All I know is the citizens of the Chechessee community need to have some resolution of this issue," Flewelling said last week.

In addition to residents' protests, Flewelling argues the property is an important environmental area, and the majority of it could be sold to the county's Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program.

Tabor Vaux Jr. and Cynthia Bensch also voted in favor of the resolution.

But ruling out the Chechessee site makes ongoing negotiations for a long-term waste management plan more difficult, Councilmen Gerald Dawson and Bill McBride said. Both voted against the resolution.

The county hauls its trash to the Hickory Hill landfill in Jasper County, owned by Waste Management. But that dump will be full in six to 13 years, according to county officials.

"We are in the process of actively working to solve our long-term solid-waste disposal needs. ... It's still a very real concern," county attorney Josh Gruber said. "Administratively, it's better to have more options on the table to solve a problem than less options."

Those options are essential to securing the best future trash-disposal plan for Beaufort County, and council shouldn't rule out one community simply because its residents don't like the idea, McBride said.

"The fact of the matter is, nobody wants a garbage dump near them," McBride said. "I think all the property in Beaufort County is sensitive in some way."

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