JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A bill that would stop a third landfill from coming to Madison County is on its way to the governor’s desk.
Wednesday, the House of Representatives concurred with an amended version of H.B. 949, which was passed out of the Senate.
The bill would require that any solid waste plan including the construction of a third municipal landfill to be approved through a ballot referendum.
District 73 Rep. Jill Ford said it wouldn’t have passed without the support of Speaker Philip Gunn, Rep. Ed Blackmon, the city of Ridgeland, and the residents who called the capitol to advocate for it.
Blackmon, who represents District 57, co-authored the bill along with Ford.
“The people were behind this bill. That’s what made it such a beautiful representation of government,” she said. “I was just lucky to have my name on it.”
The legislation passed the Senate on Tuesday after its language was changed from “non-hazardous solid waste sanitary landfill” to “municipal solid waste landfill.”
Ford said the change does not change the meaning of the initial bill.
“DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) wanted that change. We were using language that was old and that wanted to update it with recent verbiage,” she said. “That’s what we did. All my lawyers were good with it.”
The measure was drawn up in response to a plan to bring a third landfill to Madison County.
NCL Waste was planning to build an 89-acre facility on North County Line Road, near the Little Dixie Landfill.
The firm was seeking permits from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. However, the permit board decided in early 2020 that it would not sign off on plans until a needs assessment is conducted by Madison County.
The county has refused to conduct that assessment, and most board members are opposed to the landfill.
Meanwhile, the owners of NCL Waste have sent conflicting letters to MDEQ regarding their permit applications. On Feb. 2, the Butler Snow law firm submitted a letter to the regulatory agency asking that NCL’s permit applications be withdrawn.
“For a variety of reasons, NCL Waste has decided to abandon this project and pursue opportunities,” an attorney for the firm wrote.
However, Michael Bilberry, of Phoenix Waste LLC, which owns 50 percent of NCL, asked that the applications remain in place.
The NCL site would be located on land owned by the Bilberry Family Partnership.
“We cannot predict at this point what, if any, further action the permit board might choose to take on the pending applications,” said Robbie Wilbur, MDEQ spokesman.
H.B. 949 could make the NCL applications a moot point. The legislation prohibits local governments from adopting solid waste plans that include the construction of new landfills where two already exist unless they receive the public’s consent.
The bill also would prohibit solid waste plans that would allow new landfills to locate within a five-mile radius of existing sites.
The bill does not apply to the expansions of existing landfills or the replacement of landfills as long as the new landfill is held by the same permit holder.