Protestors opposed to a third landfill in Madison County rally outside the MDEQ permit board meeting in December.
Protestors opposed to a third landfill in Madison County rally outside the MDEQ permit board meeting in December.

JACKSON — The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s permit board on Tuesday temporarily rejected a proposal to place a third landfill in Madison County.

The board said it would not rule on the application for a permit from NCL Waste Management, the company that is seeking to locate the county’s third solid waste management facility on North County Line Road, just west of Ridgeland, until the county provides a new needs assessment to determine how much life the two existing landfills have left.

The plan to construct and operate a third landfill caught the spotlight in Madison County in September and immediately met resistance from area residents and the city of Ridgeland, which promptly announced plans to annex the area encompassing the prospective site of the development.

Over the last five months, representatives from the city had championed public hearings so residents could speak out against the development and relentlessly lobbied the County Board of Supervisors to amend the solid waste plan, despite the threat of a lawsuit from NCL attorneys.

On Tuesday, the board came to the conclusion that there were just too many outlying factors for its members to move forward with approval of the project. At issue were pending plans to expand one of the two existing landfills in the City of Canton and the remaining life on the Little Dixie Landfill, located immediately south of the proposed spot for the third landfill.

For the project to move forward, the county will have to contract for an independent evaluation to show a need for the third landfill.

“That’s what we had been asking them to do all along,” Ridgeland Alderman-At-Large D.I. Smith said. “and every time they were bullied and threatened by NCL attorneys. His threat is that if they do anything that opposes the landfill they would sue them. If they do their jobs they are still open for a lawsuit, but we’re going to stay involved with them and hopefully we get a good independent contractor hired to do this work.

“We’re excited about the fact that the permit board came to this decision,” Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee said. “The county needs to adjust the solid waste plan. And I believe sincerely that when it’s updated, it’ll show we don’t need another landfill.”

McGee had not left the MDEQ board meeting room in Jackson before he was mobbed by reporters.

“It’s exciting,” he added. “I think this reaction shows how excited people are about this.”

Another Ridgeland elected official, Alderman-At-Large D.I. Smith, said he gives all of his praise and glory to the Lord for helping the community avoid a decision that would effectively saddle future generations of Madison Countians with the landfill.

“I’m most proud of this awesome turnout of the citizens who opposed this landfill despite the worst of weather conditions,” Smith said. “It’s sad that the citizens had to come out and fight something this obnoxious. But they did, and they did it despite the adverse weather conditions.”