Landfill merits study

Published 4:59 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

The irony of the fervent opposition by some to growth and development in Southampton County is that the pristine landscape and rural lifestyle they cherish is exactly what makes this community a desired location for undesirable facilities.

The Navy has its sights set on Southampton County for an outlying landing field because of the vast open space and pitch blackness after dark. As the county fights like crazy to keep an OLF out, along comes the Southeastern Public Service Authority wanting to put a huge garbage dump at Drewryville on the county’s western edge.

Perhaps if Southampton County had a few more people, homes and businesses — and, by extension, more political clout — others wouldn’t see us as such an attractive dumping ground. Just a thought.

Unlike the OLF, which would do irreparable harm to our community and should be resisted with every fiber of our being, a regional landfill, as SPSA proposes to build, should not be dismissed out of hand.

The tests should be:

■ Will the owners of the land at the proposed site sell willingly?

■ Is it a good deal for taxpayers?

A SPSA consultant has advised the agency to avoid another sweetheart deal like the one enjoyed by Suffolk, which gets to dump its garbage for free in exchange for hosting a landfill. Instead, SPSA is expected to offer Southampton a sizable annual cash payment to house the landfill.

The devil, of course, will be in the details. Given the region’s dire need for another landfill and the limited number of places to put it, county officials have the upper hand in the discussions that soon will ensue. They should be mindful of that position of strength when deciding whether Southampton County should host the landfill and, if so, under what terms.