The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors is considering a new location for a proposed waste transfer station after the original location drew controversy.
JWC Environmental, a waste management company, is hoping to build a facility in Lauderdale County that would serve as a transfer location for recyclable material and garbage.
The company had originally proposed building the station at G.V. Sonny Montgomery Industrial Park, but Naval Air Station Meridian officials and other community members opposed the location.
District 5 supervisor Kyle Rutledge said on Monday the board is no longer considering the G.V. Sonny Montgomery Industrial Park location.
A new potential location has been identified — an area of land south of the Mississippi Highway Patrol office in the Key Brothers Industrial Park on U.S. Highway 11.
For the site to be built, the board would have to vote to amend the county's Solid Waste Management Plan. Before the board could pass an amendment, though, it would need to hold a public hearing, and then wait to receive comments from the public.
The board voted on Monday to schedule a public hearing on the proposed transfer station for 9:15 a.m. on May 17.
If the board votes in favor of the amendment, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality would then have to approve the amendment.
Move comes after opposition
At a March hearing for the previously considered station location, officials from NAS Meridian and local business leaders opposed the G.V. Sonny Montgomery Industrial Park site.
Capt. Timothy Brent Moore, the commanding officer of NAS Meridian, was concerned that vultures that frequent the Pine Ridge Landfill would be drawn to the transfer station area. This would cause the birds to fly closer to NAS Meridian’s landing pattern. Vultures pose a safety risk for pilots, and they have struck naval aircraft in the past.
Moore and Capt. Tracey Gendreau, Training Air Wing One Commodore, will not oppose the alternate location for the station, according to a statement from NAS Meridian released on Monday. The base has consulted with Scott Rush, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology and management at Mississippi State University who is studying the activity of vultures in the Meridian area.
“Based on analysis and discussions with the DoD vulture study lead by Mississippi State University's Dr. Scott Rush, NAS Meridian leadership believes the new site is a win-win for the county and the Navy base,” the statement says.
NAS Meridian noted that the new location is a mile from Pine Ridge Landfill. Because the two sites are in close proximity, the current vulture population is unlikely to be pulled closer to NAS Meridian.
And when the vultures fly between the landfill and the proposed transfer station, they are not likely to fly at altitudes that would endanger aviators and their T-45C aircraft.
“We appreciate the county supervisors, the county administrator, and EMBDC for the hard work and collaboration with the Navy and JWC leadership to reach this viable option,” NAS Meridian said.
Rutledge, the District 5 supervisor, said that the board has been working with NAS Meridian, the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation and JWC Environmental to find a location that will work for all stakeholders.
He said a transfer station would benefit Lauderdale County, especially because it would allow for more recycling in the county.