Buffalo citizens ramp up efforts against green waste site

Published 10:30 am Saturday, May 25, 2024

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The citizens of Buffalo met at Lebanon Presbyterian Church to discuss the land purchased by the Chambers County Commission for the use of a green waste site. 

Brandon Clifton, along with about 15 other Buffalo residents, signed a petition expressing their disapproval of the proposed dump site in the small town on the grounds of increased pollution, foul odors and potential health hazards due to air quality. 

Clifton said he invited both County Commission Chairman James “Moto” Williams and Commissioner Doug Jones, who represents Buffalo’s district, to the meeting but neither attended. 

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In a statement to the VTN, Williams said that he had told the organizers that he had a conflict with the initial meeting day. He said that the organizers told him they also had a conflict and planned to change the date to Thursday but that they never confirmed the date with him. 

Jones, Clifton said, refused to come saying he would not come to a meeting where he would feel attacked. The VTN reached out to Jones but didn’t receive a response. Williams said he would not speak on Jones’ behalf.

The community also discussed starting a write-in campaign for the District 2 seat to run against Jones, since it’s too late to qualify for the election in November. 

Clifton was the first of the community to notice blue county signs coming up around a large cornfield at the side of the road on Highway 431 in Buffalo. The lot is near the turn-off for County Road 105. When he asked a friend in the county about it, he discovered that the commissioners had purchased the lot as a FEMA Vegetative Debris Reduction site. 

Williams said, later to the VTN, that though he understands their concern but that the plan to make a small piece of the land has never changed. 

“We’re still saying that’s all it’s gonna be is a GreenWaste site,” Williams said. “If we had a major storm to come through, [it’s] somewhere to dispose of our trees and all as we clean up. It has been blown out of proportion … We’re not going into the dumping business.”

Per FEMA guidelines, Clifton said, the site can only be used if the governor or president have called a state of emergency in the area. Then, the county can put green waste on the site and burn it. 

Williams said they planned to have the furthest portion of the land used as a FEMA green waste site in case of a state of emergency. The only changes they have made to their plans were to comply with EPA and ADEM guidelines, such as storing green waste and either burning or chipping it later. 

Clifton and other residents began coming to county commission meetings to express their displeasure with the plan. The response from the commissioners has made the residents feel wary of the plans for the site, according to Clifton.

Many of the residents said during the meeting that they wouldn’t have been so upset if it weren’t for what they felt was secrecy from the commission. 

The commissioners, Clifton said, responded that they have talked about the purchase of the land in public meetings such as work sessions and commission meetings for the past two years. However, the meeting agendas are not posted to the community ahead of the meeting. 

Another thing the community members asked for was a document that states the commission’s plans for the site. Williams said, “It’s not worth the paper it’s written on but we’re thinking really seriously about giving them a document that says this is what the county’s plans are for [land].”

Williams said that such a document would not bar the next commissioners down the road from changing those plans if they decided to.