Nashville’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is protesting a Metro ordinance they contend could pave the way for the reopening of the old Bordeaux landfill that city officials closed in 1994 after years of pressure from African-American leaders.
But the protest appears to be misguided.
Metro officials and attorneys point out that the disputed clause — added to prevent the Bordeaux landfill from reopening, they say — has existed for decades. Moreover, the former Bordeaux landfill property on County Hospital Road isn’t even zoned for landfill use, officials say.
The ordinance in question addresses sweeping changes to the Metro code pertaining to solid waste management, including a new “pay-as-you-throw” plan that would charge a monthly fee for extra trash disposal and others steps aimed at encouraging more recycling.
NAACP leaders aren’t objecting to these measures. Rather, they’re calling into a question a clause that says no public sanitary landfill site in Metro that was “used for such purposes as of October 21, 1988” may be used for such purposes now without Metro Council approval.
The date is a clear reference to the Bordeaux landfill site, and NAACP leaders claim the legislation would subject its reopening to a single council vote on Tuesday.
“It is offensive to have our neighborhood designated as the first choice for a landfill,” former councilman and NAACP executive member Ludye Wallace said in a statement. “We are not angry, but we need to eliminate this part of the proposed ordinance.”
But Metro Council attorney Jon Cooper said the provision was added to the Metro code in 1988 to protect Bordeaux residents.
“The purpose of the provision was to keep Public Works from opening a landfill without permission from the council,” Cooper said.
Asked about the provision, Billy Lynch, director of the public works department, said Metro has “no intention, never has had any intention, to do anything with the Bordeaux landfill."
“It’s already there,” Lynch said of the clause. “It has no impact because the Bordeaux landfill doesn’t even have a permit. Under the new TDEC [Tennessee Department of Energy and Conservation] regulations, it never could meet the criteria. Plus, financially it couldn’t.”
Councilman Lonnell Mathews, who represents Bordeaux, did not immediately respond to phone messages left by The City Paper.