The Waco City Council is studying a possible alternative to the proposed landfill site at Old Lorena Road near Highway 84.
A consultant with SCS Engineering reported finding a site of adequate size within 15 miles of the city, close enough to avoid the cost of building a transfer station where trash would be loaded onto 18-wheelers.
The site, which is more than 250 acres and would cost $2.3 million, has a topography that appears “fair to favorable” for a landfill, though it hasn’t been studied in depth, said Kevin Yard, vice president of SCS Engineers’ Texas office. Compared with the Old Lorena Road site, the alternative site would have some accessibility issues and would require some road building, he said.
City public works director Chuck Dowdell said the site would require garbage trucks to travel longer distances, which would add to operational and vehicle replacement costs. He said the additional cost estimates aren’t solid, but the alternative site would likely raise residential rates from $14.20 per month to $18.90, a 33 percent increase.
A report to the council last month indicated that the closest alternatives at least four miles from neighborhoods are some 30 miles away, which would require a transfer station and would raise residential bills 84 percent, to $26.13 per month.
Unsatisfied after that presentation, the council asked the team to spend a few more weeks looking for eligible sites closer to Waco. The consultants widened their search to consider sites closer to neighborhoods of 50 homes or more, this time setting one mile as the minimum distance. The Old Lorena Road site would be almost a mile from the nearest subdivision, as is the existing Waco Regional Landfill.
Mayor Kyle Deaver said Tuesday that the new site is worth further study.
“I think it would be wise to look at some other areas,” Deaver said. “But we don’t have unlimited time.”
The SCS Engineering official estimated that permitting and construction for a new landfill could take about seven years, about the amount of time before the current Waco Regional Landfill is estimated to fill up.
The city has already bought the 270-acre site on Old Lorena Road, next to the existing landfill, and has employed SCS Engineering to do site testing and permitting for that site. But that site has drawn a lawsuit from neighbors and organized opposition from suburban residents in the Highway 84 corridor. Leaders of Citizens Against the Highway 84 Landfill argue that the smell and traffic from the proposed landfill would damage their quality of life and property values. The Heart of Texas Builders Association has also signed on to the campaign against the landfill site.
The proposed alternative site hasn’t been publicly disclosed, though the council discussed it in executive session.
In the open session, council members questioned the methods that city staff and the consultant used to search for sites. The consultant looked at sites that were listed for sale and that were at least 250 acres, at least one mile from existing neighborhoods and outside floodplains.
“My only frustration is that the only sites we looked at are publicly listed sites,” Councilman John Kinnaird said.
Councilman Dillon Meek suggested that the city could negotiate for properties that aren’t listed and even assemble smaller tracts into a larger tract.
City Manager Dale Fisseler said that the city in theory could acquire property through eminent domain, but it can be a long process, and it might not be possible in a case where the city already owns another potential landfill site.