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Farmers Branch proposes expansion of Camelot Landfill: Neighboring cities respond, worry about quality of life
Things are getting messy as residents and council members from surrounding cities sound off on a plan proposed by the city of Farmers Branch to expand the Camelot Landfill by 205 feet.
The Camelot Landfill was originally permitted in 1979 by the Texas Department of Health, a predecessor to the current Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. It began operating in unincorporated Denton County in 1980. The original permit was amended in 1981 to cover a total of 350 acres and in 1987 was annexed by the city of Lewisville.
The cities of Farmers Branch, Lewisville and Carrollton have grown and expanded. What previously an unincorporated area is now the Indian Creek and Coyote Ridge subdivisions of Carrollton, neighbors to the Camelot landfill and its neighbor the towering DFW Landfill, which has not so affectionately been dubbed "Mount Lewisville."
Camelot is currently projected to reach capacity within the next 16 years and the DFW Landfill faces closure in less than 10 years. The city of Farmers Branch applied in the spring with the TCEQ to expand it by more than 200 feet, providing 40 more years of service to communities, said Tom Bryson, spokesperson for the city of Farmers Branch.
"The City of Farmers Branch has made a very deliberate effort over many years to listen to the concerns of the neighborhoods," Bryson said. "In an effort to impact landfill odor, the City has installed a methane gas collection system that converts much of the landfill gas to energy and burns off most of the rest. Camelot has been inspected by TCEQ at least 15 times for odor complaints in the past six years and has never been cited."
Bryson said Farmers Branch officials have been meeting with Lewisville officials to try to answer whatever questions they may have. Farmers Branch representatives will also be present at the TCEQ meeting in Carrollton later this month.
"We must view this issue in the proper perspective," Bryson said. "By its very nature, a landfill expands every day and Camelot will continue to do so for the next 16 or so years, even without [height] expansion. The permit request, if granted, will provide an option for the landfill needs of a great deal of north Texas, including Lewisville and Carrollton, for 40 years to come."
Bryson said if the request is denied and the landfill is unable to expand, solid waste will have to be hauled to the closest landfill in far South Dallas. Noting that fuel costs would drive disposal fees through the roof.
But Leonard Martin, city manager for the city of Carrollton, said the expansion of the Camelot Landfill is a concern for neighboring cities. The city of Carrollton discussed the issue during executive session at last week's council meeting.
"It was an executive session discussion, so I can't really say what went on, but the council is clearly on record that the existing landfills negatively impact the quality of life in Carrollton and Lewisville," Martin said. "[The landfill] is already permitted so it's just something you accept. But the council is vehemently opposed to granting more intrusion on the quality of life by adding additional height to the landfill."
The council is so opposed to the proposed expansion, that is has retained council in Austin that specializes in administrative law, unleashing them to pursue every avenue.
It's not just the council that is opposed to the proposed plans, neighboring residents are also concerned.
"There is a large segment of the Carrollton population that is outraged and indignant," Martin said. "While they accept that what's there is there and it will go higher, they are just indignant that there is an effort from a city to impose this on them when it doesn't affect that city. The residents in Farmers Branch have no impact - they get a revenue stream off it. I think that's what makes people righteously outraged about it."
Frank Schmaeling, president of the Coyote Ridge Homeowners Association, which sits adjacent to the landfill, said he is concerned about any type of further expansion and has one major concern.
"It's the open-endedness," he said. "The city of Farmers Branch is proposing an increase in height, which is obviously very troubling for individuals because the last thing they want to do is look out and see another mountain."
Schmaeling said he was also concerned with the environmental impact of a larger landfill and fears what the height addition could do to home values in the area.
"We are very disappointed as far as TCEQ and all of the other governmental bodies in the process - we don't have a say in it," he said. "Unless there is a proven environmental issue or a proven health issue, or as long as they meet all the statutory requirements they are going to get approved. That's pretty frustrating. They don't take into consideration what you would deem being a good neighbor."
Schmaeling said the HOA is hoping when the time comes for this vertical expansion, residents can voice their opinion and "that TCEQ and even Farmers Branch realizes that they aren't being a good neighbor."
"There's all these open ended solutions that really impact the homeowners in Coyote Ridge, River Glenn and the homeowners in Lewisville," he said. "There's a whole little patch in Lewisville that seems to be forgotten because it's a low-income area."