Protestors opposing a proposed third landfill in Madison County rallied outside a MDEQ permit board meeting in December.
Protestors opposing a proposed third landfill in Madison County rallied outside a MDEQ permit board meeting in December.

A bill currently parked in the state senate committee overseeing environmental issues that would allow Madison County residents to vote on a proposed third landfill is expected to die Tuesday afternoon without an up-or-down vote.

House Bill 1533, which was approved by the State House of Representatives and double-referred to the Senate Committees on Environmental Protection, Conservation and Water Resources and Accountability, would require — among other stipulations — that any new landfill within one mile from an existing landfill to garner 60 percent of the vote in a referendum election.

The bill will die unless it garners enough support to be voted out of both of those committees by Tuesday afternoon.

The Environmental and Accountability Committees are chaired by State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) and John Polk (R-Pearl River).

Opponents of the proposed landfill spent Friday and early Monday urging citizens to call McDaniel and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann to express their support for the bill.

“I would encourage anyone concerned about the landfill to do as I have and call the Lt. Governor and plead with him to oversee this bill getting out of committee,” Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee said. “We think the (Hosemann) has been misled about the need for this legislation, and we want to see it make it to the floor for an up-or-down vote.”

The bill is the latest attempt to stall the development from NCL Waste Management LLC, which would build a third solid-waste landfill in Madison County off of North County Line Road west of Ridgeland. The dump would be the third in Madison County. No other county in Mississippi has more than one such facility.

Opponents of the landfill, including McGee and the rest of Ridgeland’s city leadership, at least two members of the Madison County Board of Supervisors and a group of concerned citizens who have organized into a group calling itself “No More Dumps,” have taken steps to stop the development for years. The controversy over the proposal hit a fever pitch near the end of last year, when the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s permit board tabled NCL’s permit until the Madison County Board of Supervisors provides an updated needs assessment to the board.

The county has not publicly taken steps to order or fund such an assessment, but NCL is still publicly opposing the City of Ridgeland’s proposal to annex the area containing the Little Dixie Landfill, as well as the site of the proposed new dump.

McGee said Friday the notion that NCL’s project is dead “just isn’t true.”

“If they aren’t still trying to build it, then why are they still opposed to our annexation of that area?” McGee asked rhetorically. “Why haven’t they withdrawn their application for a permit with MDEQ?”

McGee is far from the only local politician who has supported the bill opposing the dump. The town of Flora and the City of Canton have both passed resolutions expressing opposition to the project, and freshman State Rep. Jill Ford said she was proud to vote in favor of sending the bill to the Senate.

“I do not want to disparage our state leaders, including Lt. Gov. Hosemann,” Ford said. “But I do want to challenge him to guide this bill towards an up-or-down vote. The people of Madison County and North Jackson deserve a voice in whether or not they want another landfill in the area.”

Ford, who came to politics following a career in real estate, said she knows “all too well” the detrimental effect a new dump will have on the land value for homeowners in the area.

If the bill dies in committee, she said, the chances of the project moving forward increases tremendously.

“It’s a completely separate issue,” Ford said. “But what you are seeing around the country with people taking to the streets is what happens when regular citizens start to lose faith in institutions. Well, hardly anyone has stood up for these citizens in this area, who are being railroaded by an out-of-town private company. Someone has got to speak up, and all this bill asks is that you get the consent of the people who are directly affected by this project instead of railroading them.”