About two dozen people turned out Monday to oppose a proposed new construction and demolition materials landfill in Birchwood, but the project won approval from a planning panel.
Opponents vowed to fight the 25-acre landfill project when it goes before the Hamilton County Commission on Oct. 18 for its final approval.
Tim Ballard, who spoke before the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, said there are already 1,500 signatures on petitions against the proposed landfill.
"We'll try to gather public support," he said.
Greg Krum, a member of the group trying to develop the landfill at 9327 Birchwood Pike, said the proposed project already is adjacent to an existing city solid waste landfill.
He said plans are to use the same road to enter the new landfill, which would be built on wooded property owned by Lamar McDaniel.
Krum said a former construction and demolition landfill in the county closed last March.
"Now everything has to go to Bradley County," he said. "It would be only construction and demolition. That's all we're going to do and we want to do."
Engineer George Hyfantis, who spoke for the development group's plan, said there would be a 100-foot buffer around the proposed landfill.
Currently, the property is zoned A-1 agricultural and the request was to have the property rezoned to M-1 industrial district.
Ballard termed the proposal "spot zoning" because most of the area around it is zoned agricultural. But John Bridger, who directs the Regional Planning Agency, which recommended approval with conditions, said it's not spot zoning because the site is next to the existing landfill.
Still, Ballard said there are four other landfills which could be used in nearby counties. Also, he said, there's "a suitable site" at the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant site in Tyner that is publicly owned.
Ballard said that because the planned landfill would be privately owned, there would be a lack of monitoring and it would be "virtually unregulated."
"Landfills historically lower property values," he said.
Planning Commission member Todd Leamon said the former VAAP site identified by Ballard isn't open or active for a landfill. He also said "it's not sustainable" not to have some type of construction and demolition landfill in the county.
Leamon said the developer has indicated the landfill could operate for 10 years.
Concerning the site at the old VAAP location, which is now called Enterprise South industrial park, Ballard said it simply may be a matter of reopening the property for a landfill since it's owned by the city and county.
"It's three times the size of this site," he said.
John Chenkus, who lives in the area, said the 25 acres proposed for the new landfill is part of a larger tract he thinks could become a landfill in the future.
"It's a foothold," he said.
Contact Mike Pare at mpare@times freepress.com or 423-757-6318.