Holly Springs: The Landfill
Wake County proposed the South Wake Solid Waste Management Facility in the 1980s. The new facility would occupy 471 acres and would border a low and middle class Black neighborhood. All of Wake County’s municipal waste would be sent to the facility by 2008, with one garbage truck entering the landfill per minute for 20 years. The facility was projected to open in 1998, but the date was postponed due to litigation and community opposition.
Wake County initiated a site feasibility study in 1988 and by 1991 had purchased 311 acres for the facility. County officials believed that the site’s dense clay, low property values, and sparse population made it an ideal landfill site, and that proximity to a water table formations and a fault line (the site of land movements such as earthquakes) would not pose a problem.
In 1991, county and Holly Springs officials began meeting about the landfill. In 1994, Wake County forgave a prior loan and provided financial help so that Holly Springs could further develop its sewer system. In exchange, Holly Springs agreed to treat 50,000 gallons daily of leachate (water that seeps through a landfill and is contaminated by its waste).
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources approved the landfill site application in 1995. In 1997, the Holly Springs Town Council approved Wake County’s solid waste management plan, including the proposed new Holly Springs landfill location.
Although Wake County had been talking to the Holly Springs Town Council for several years about the landfill, many Holly Springs residents first learned of the plans in 1998. They called on the Town Council to block the landfill construction. The Council agreed and voted to rescind (cancel) its approval.
However, by that time, Wake County had spent $7 million on property purchases and site preparation. In 1999, Wake County Commissioners voted to continue pursuing a permit to build the new facility. Two months later, the Holly Springs Town Council voted against suing Wake County over the proposed landfill. The county received the state permit for the landfill in 1999.