The Prince William Board of County Supervisors, attempting to find middle ground on the divisive issue of what to do with the county's trash, yesterday crafted a compromise that pleased almost no one.
The supervisors approved the sale of a "revenue note" that allows them to raise $3.4 million to expand the county landfill -- outraging nearby residents who said the expansion would bring foul odors, rodents and the threat of water pollution, and thus lower their property values.
However, the supervisors so restricted the possible area where the dump can expand that the superintendent of the landfill said the compromise is little better than no solution at all.
Prince William's dramatic growth in homes and businesses in recent years has caused a 22 percent annual increase in the the amount of trash hauled to the county landfill, said superintendent Clarence Hall. At that rate, he said, there will be no space left at the facility in about nine years. The landfill is in the midsection of Prince William off Rte. 234.
By purchasing as many as 545 acres with the revenue note, said Hill, the county would be able to extend the life of the landfill by about 30 years.
After listening to dozens of nearby residents condemn the proposal, the supervisors directed the purchase only of land south of Powells Creek -- reducing potential expansion by about 60 percent. Because of the geography of the expansion site, according to Hall, the life of the landfill would be extended by about 18 months.
The compromise passed 4 to 3. Voting in favor were Supervisors G. Richard Pfitzner, a Democrat whose district includes the landfill, Kathleen K. Seefeldt (D-Occoquan), Donald E. Kidwell (R-Woodbridge) and Joseph D. Reading (D-Brentsville). Voting against were supervisors Tony Guiffre (R-Gainesville), John D. Jenkins (D-Neabsco) and Edwin C. King (D-Dumfries).
The result, which Pfitzner called the best possible compromise, was derided by Guiffre as a "short-sighted" expedient.
Nearby homeowners, echoing the concerns of homeowners in Montgomery and Fairfax counties who in recent years have opposed landfill proposals for their neighborhoods, attacked the proposed expansion on several fronts.
A parade of speakers said the expanded landfill could allow toxic chemicals to seep into their drinking wells, and would be certain to increase traffic, noise and odors in their neighborhoods.
"Who on this board would like to live with the smell of a landfill in your back yard?" Milton Moore, a civic activist, asked the supervisors. "I see none of you are raising your hands."
The residents will have another chance to raise their concerns. As part of the compromise, the supervisors voted to hold a second public hearing before approving the purchase of any specific parcels of land with the revenue note funds. Because this was the last meeting of the current supervisors, the next vote will be taken with four new members.
In other action yesterday, the supervisors approved the sale of more than $25.19 million in bonds for school construction that had been passed by voters in referendums last month.