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VOL. 132 | NO. 183 | Thursday, September 14, 2017

Frayser Landfill Expansion Voted Down

By Patrick Lantrip

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The proposed expansion of a construction landfill in Frayser was unanimously shot down by the Shelby County Land Use Board Thursday, Sept. 14, to the cheers of dozens of concerned residents and students from the nearby Memphis Business Academy who showed up to voice their opposition.

Signs reading “Don’t Dump on Frayser,” which was the rallying cry of the opposition, could be seen in the crowd as the LUCB reviewed both sides of Memphis Wrecking Co.’s expansion plans for more than an hour during the meeting.

“I’m not personally against the use, I’m against the end result,” LUCB chairman Jon McCreery said before casting his vote. “And I hate to say that to (Memphis Wrecking Co. owner Steve) Williamson, because I think he has been a good custodian to that process until now.”

McCreery was referring to the first phase of Memphis Wrecking Co.’s construction landfill, which was ultimately approved in 2007 after receiving a similar level of neighborhood opposition.

Gene Bryan, the director of planning and research for Caissa Public Strategy, whose firm is representing Memphis Wrecking Co., argued that his client has maintained an exceptional environmental record in the nearly 10 years it has operated the 24.4-acre site on Thomas Street due south of Whitney Avenue.

The proposed expansion of Memphis Wrecking Co.’s construction landfill in Frayser was unanimously shot down by the Shelby County Land Use Board at its Thursday Sept. 14 meeting.

(Patrick Lantrip/ The Daily News)

Bryan told the board that Memphis Wrecking Co.’s desire to expand its site to the 34.4-acre stretch of vacant land it owns to the east was purely geological and not socio-economic.  

“When the engineering studies were done on the original site, they indicated that the thickness of the clay layer was superb and made this an excellent location for a landfill operation,” Bryan said. “Yes, the staff says there are other site are geologically the same, but they are not located adjacent to an environmentally safe location.”

However, many residents and community stakeholders felt as though the development would negatively affect an area that has worked hard to build itself back up from the doldrums of the Great Recession, especially considering the proximity of property’s eastern boundary to Whitney Elementary School.

“This proposed application is in fact on pristine, beautiful, flat farmland,” said Steve Lockwood, the executive director of the Frayser Community Development Corp. “Placing a landfill in the Frayser community does not create a desirable use of this land and is in conflict with the Frayser Futures plan.”

Lockwood said that the original agreement in 2007 called for Memphis Wrecking Co. to build a business park on top on the landfill once the borrow pit was filled, then move on to another area instead of expanding on the current site. 

“The Frayser community is at long last seeing depressed values rise faster than any community in Memphis,” Lockwood said. “This expansion threatens the progress that we are finally making.”

Following Lockwood was a string of opposition that ranged from Girls Inc. president and CEO Lisa Moore to students from the nearby Memphis Business Academy to Evergreen Historic District Association president Sam Goff. In addition to pledging the Midtown neighborhood’s support, Goff ran a local radio ad campaign opposing the expansion.

After hearing out both sides, there was little deliberation amongst the board members, save for McCreery’s rationale for his opposition, before the board unanimously voted to reject Memphis Wrecking Co.’s application. 

PROPERTY SALES 51 333 19,446
MORTGAGES 68 383 22,433
BUILDING PERMITS 138 688 40,004
BANKRUPTCIES 34 238 12,486