Waco Regional Landfill

An aerial photograph shows a section of the Waco Regional Landfill and surrounding land.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

A proposed landfill site at Old Lorena Road would be closer to neighborhoods than landfills in most of Waco’s midsize “peer cities” in Texas, but it wouldn’t be the closest, according to an analysis city staff gave the Waco City Council on Tuesday.

Council members had asked for that information amid ongoing debate about where to place a new landfill, with some opponents arguing the Old Lorena Road site would be unusually close to homes.

Staff members said the Old Lorena Road site would be within 0.66 miles of a neighborhood with more than 50 homes, while the current landfill next door is 0.43 miles from such a neighborhood. Looking at neighborhoods with 350 or more homes, the Old Lorena Road site would be 0.66 miles away, compared with more than a mile with the existing landfill.

That’s still a bigger buffer than the Denton landfill, which is 0.01 miles from the nearest neighborhood of more than 50 homes, and 0.46 miles from a neighborhood of more than 350, according to the staff analysis. Denton is one of 10 other cities that Waco city leaders have long used for comparison. Others are Abilene, Amarillo, Beaumont, Bryan-College Station, Killeen, Lubbock, Temple, Tyler and Wichita Falls.

“You can see a big variety in distances to homes,” city solid waste director Anna Dunbar said of the other cities.

But the average landfill distance from larger neighborhoods in those peer cities is about 3 miles, said Councilman Jim Holmes, who represents West Waco and opposes the Old Lorena Road site.

“This study kind of affirmed my assumptions,” Holmes said.

He argued that building another landfill off Highway 84 would impede growth in that area and diminish future tax base.

Of the 11 peer cities, five have landfills closer than a mile to small neighborhoods. Only Beaumont, Denton and Temple have landfills within a mile of larger neighborhoods, and the Beaumont landfill now only takes construction material.

Dunbar showed evidence that 8 of 11 peer cities have landfills or transfer stations within four miles of smaller neighborhoods, while 6 of 11 have such facilities within four miles of 350-home neighborhood.

Brad Holland, head of the Citizens Against the Highway 84 Landfill group, said in a phone interview that the study only confirms that the proposed site is too close to neighborhoods.

“We feel very vindicated and pleased with the information presented,” Holland said.

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