Council approves purchase of tract adjacent to possible landfill site

A map showing the boundaries of the second tract the City of Waco is considering for purchase....
A map showing the boundaries of the second tract the City of Waco is considering for purchase. (Hill County)(KWTX)
Published: Sep. 4, 2018 at 6:34 PM CDT
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The Waco City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to purchase a 772-acre tract adjacent to a potential landfill site in the Axtell area.

The $3,200,000 purchase for the land of south of State HIghway 31 in Hill and Limestone counties, comes on the heels of an earlier council decision to spend $1,800,000 on 502-acres of land off T.K. Parkway: a total of $5,000,000 on more than 1,200-acres.

About 20 percent of which would be used for landfill, Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said earlier, and the remainder of the initial property, which extends into Hill County, would serve as green space.

The council voted on July 31 to approve the 502-acre purchase and also approved a resolution authorizing the filing of an application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for a permit for a landfill on the site.

The council passed another resolution to apply for a landfill permit with the TCEQ for the 772-acre property Tuesday night.

Two Mount Calm residents spoke out against the purchase at Tuesday's council meeting including the former city's former mayor, Gail Souders.

"I used to be Mayor of Mount Calm, and we would never have dumped on the City of Waco or McLennan County the way that they're trying to dump on us," said Souders.

Souders, who grew up in Axtell, lives near the proposed site and said there are four cemeteries in the area including T.K. Cemetery, Billington Cemetery, Mount Calm Cemetery, and Mount Antioch Cemetery where her son is buried.

"I just wanted to appeal to their hearts to, if that was their family that was buried out there, how would they feel?" said Souders. "I'm a very passionate person, I believe that there's a right and wrong in everything, and this whole thing is just wrong."

Souders wasn't surprised by the council's decision and said it was why only a couple of people objected publicly at Tuesday's night meeting: because, like last time, they suspected the council was going to approve the purchase no matter what they said.

"My parents didn't raise me to lay down and just bow down and not fight for what I believe in," said Souders.

Along with others against the landfill, she said she was now going to focus her efforts on fighting the TCEQ permit.

"I'm working on my letters right now," said Souders.

Hill County commissioners voted unanimously a week ago in favor of a resolution opposing Waco’s tentative plans to open a landfill in the Axtell area.

They also gave unanimous approval to a second resolution aimed at barring any new landfills in the county.

Hill County can't prevent Waco from purchasing the land, Hill County Judge Justin Lewis said, but hopes to use a health and safety municipal code to keep new landfills from opening.

Hill County's only existing landfill is in Itasca.

Limestone County commissioners passed a resolution last month opposing the city's proposed Axtell landfill, which would extend into Limestone County.

The resolution Limestone County commissioners approved expresses concern about the damage that trash trucks could do to county roads and about the potential threat a landfill could pose to the Tehuacana Creek watershed.

Axtell area residents have organized to fight the proposed landfill.

About 500 of them attended the Waco council meeting in July when the purchase of the site was authorized.

They expressed concerns about health, safety and the city's lack of transparency, complaining they were blindsided by the city's purchase of the property.

The city began looking for potential sites after encountering strong opposition to the initial plan to build a new landfill on a 270-acre site bounded by Highway 84 and Old Lorena Road adjacent to the existing landfill, which opened in the early 1990s.

The Waco landfill serves 11 counties.

Waco residents and businesses account for more than 60 percent of the trash delivered to the landfill.

The rest comes from surrounding areas.