Snow Hill: What happened?
When a group of community residents learned about the proposed site, they began investigating the landfill’s potential impact on the community. They met to share their findings and wrote letters to the editor of the local newspaper. They formed Greene Citizens for Responsible Growth (GCRG) to organize against the landfill. Many people in GCRG were angry because the commissioners signed a contract without community input. They also felt concerned about an increase in truck traffic, offensive odors, and the stigma of having another landfill in their community.
On October 5, 1998, the Greene County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing to discuss the landfill site. Hundreds of people attended the hearing, and the meeting lasted over three hours. The Board voted to approve the site after the hearing ended.
Shortly thereafter, GCRG sued the Board of Commissioners to prevent the construction of the landfill. GCRG said that the Board violated a 1999 North Carolina General Statute that established rules about the development of new landfills located within one mile of another landfill, such as requiring local governments to consider alternative sites and to make sure that the nearby residents are not primarily low income or people of color.
Superior Court judges granted a temporary injunction (an order to stop what one is doing), but later denied the group’s request for a long term order to stop building of the landfill.
The citizen’s group appealed the decision to a higher court, and on July 5, 2001, the NC Court of Appeals reversed the previous trial court decision, sending the case back to the lower court and asking them to look at the evidence again.
“[When] our case advanced to the Court of Appeals in Raleigh, we rented a bus. We packed the bus with black and white. We went up to the court of appeals. We fully occupied the courtroom, the windowsills around the side, all the standing room, so when the justices came in, the chairman looked around and smiled, [saying], ‘I’ve never seen so many people in this courtroom before.’”