BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Neighbors who live in the Royal Oaks Community of Brunswick County may have some good news on the way.
For years, residents living there have fought against Brunswick County officials over a plan to expand the county landfill into their backyards.
It's been a costly fight. Brunswick County initially purchased the land, located next to the current landfill, near the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 211 in Supply, for $1.6 million in 2010.
Since then, the county has spent nearly $300,000 in taxpayer money on professional fees, which includes various site tests, and engineering costs associated with zoning and permitting of the land parcels.
The county has also been forced to spend even more money to defend themselves against a lawsuit from the residents of the Royal Oaks Community.
They were sued because the initial plan for that land was to build an expansion to the Construction and Demolition landfill, located near the community which is home for more than 300 families.
Given the size of the parcels, the central location, the increasing student population in Brunswick County, and over $100 million of school capital needs identified by the school board, county staff plans to recommend that commissioners set aside the property for a future school site.
Because the amount of waste coming into the existing landfill has dropped considerably since the recession and the transfer cots have remained stable, County Manager Ann Hardy says the county believes there is no economic advantage to expand the current landfill.
But it's not a done deal yet. County commissioners still have to approve the plan. As a matter of fact, this plan is so fresh that many of the commissioners have not even been formally briefed on the updated plans.
Community members, however, are already getting excited about the possibility of a new school in the community as opposed to an expansion of the landfill.
Lewis Dozier, a spokesperson for the Royal Oaks Community, says he's spent many sleepless nights worrying about the pending lawsuit and the future of the community where he was born and raised.
"We take a lot of pride in where we live," said Dozier. "We want to be an asset and incorporate with the county and other communities but not get dumped on like we have in the past."
Dozier added that they're happy to hear that county officials could be considering other ideas for the use of that land.
"To hear that this is a possibility is very, very good news so I will sleep better and I'm sure the community will too," said Dozier. "It's been a struggle for years to try to do this and it's taken our time away from other things."
With that being said, Dozier says they will continue to carry out their lawsuit against the county until formal action is taken by commissioners.
Negotiations over the land have not officially begun and at this point, there is no timetable for a formal course of action.
Hardy says that the county is delighted about the possibility of working with the school staff in the future to provide needed classroom space for the county's students. She believes this would be an ideal site due to its central location, highway accessibility and beautiful land.
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