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There’s action around the old landfill on Navaho Trail. What is going on?

Ken Little

The new entrance to the old facility on Navaho Trail. Photo by Si Cantwell.

The site began to be used on or about September 1957, according to “the earliest record in the file,” said Gerard M. Taylor, N.C. Department of Transportation county maintenance engineer.

The site is a permitted sand mine, Taylor said.

It is currently used “as an active stockpile site of roadway materials,” Taylor said.

“The entrance was recently moved from its location in a blind curve of Navaho Trail to a more tangent section of roadway. The entrance move was to increase the sight distance for the vehicles ingress and egressing the site as well as the motoring public on Navaho Trail,” he said.

Joe Suleyman, New Hanover County environmental management director, followed up with addition information after being asked to look into the matter by county Commissioners Chairman Ted Davis Jr.

Suleyman said NCDOT owns the property and has a mining permit “they have not utilized since the 1980’s.”

He said NCDOT “is to some extent self-regulating, so they have their own erosion/sediment control plan vs. a plan on file with (the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources).”

“The site is used as a staging area for materials such as soil, sand, gravel and some vegetative debris,” Suleyman said. “The activity the nearby homeowners are witnessing is NCDOT hauling material either into or out of the site.”

NCDOT officials told Suleyman the entrance to the site on the western side was recently blocked off to prevent illegal dumping, and some pavement was added within the property to facilitate truck ingress/egress.

Satellite photography confirms that while the site appears in an old newspaper article, along with other sites, as a “landfill”, “Neither I nor NCDENR could find any information on the site as either being previously permitted for landfill use or identified as an unlined, pre-regulation ‘orphan’ landfill site, Suleyman said.

NCDENR stated that they do not regulate this type of activity, Suleyman said.

The property was used in 1984 following Hurricane Diana as a vegetative debris management site, he said.

Under current zoning rules, Suleyman said the site would be classified as “special trade contractor” but because it is in a residential area, there would have to be a non-conforming use determination if it had been sited there recently.

He said an example of special trade contractor use would be a landscaping contractor that has stockpiles of mulch or soil on their property.

“Essentially, the activities at this site are grandfathered unless there is a material change to the use or scope of use of the property,” Suleyman said. “I walked the site last week and I could not find any evidence of municipal solid waste or hazardous waste disposal.”

The property is bordered “by either a narrow buffer of trees or an 8-to-10 foot high vegetated berm along the frontage facing Navaho Trail,” he said.


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