The Baldwin County Commission approved the purchase of 551 acres of land south and west of its MacBride Landfill outside of Loxley last week. The $3,306,000 purchase will more than quadruple the county’s existing footprint around the landfill and provide enough space for it to continue operating well beyond its current 15-year lifespan.
According to Solid Waste Director Terri Graham, the commission moved to purchase what is known as the Belforest Corn Branch Tract after the property was recently listed. The commission approved a purchase price of about $200,000 below list. The seller is Stapleton Family Corporation of Loxley.
“Baldwin County is just booming with construction right now,” Graham said Monday. “It’s nothing that we can’t handle or was not predicted, but at the current rate if we had storm or needed to use more space faster … we just want to make sure we’re already prepared.”
Graham said the county recently renewed a five-year Alabama Department of Environmental Protection permit for MacBride Landfill, so commissioners will have around four years to consider expansion plans before the next renewal deadline. Graham noted the next permit cycle lasts 10 years, “so we need to have a plan in place.”
In the meantime, Graham said, the purchase was important so the county won’t have to find property elsewhere suitable for a landfill.
“The important thing was having [land] that touches us already so there is not as much of an impact on the neighbors,” she said. “The greatest thing you can have around a landfill is a buffer.”
The county already owns 193 acres encompassing the landfill. The new property is immediately to its south between the residential neighborhoods of Timber Ridge Drive and Longview Drive, extending west along Corn Branch, a tributary of Fish River, part of the Weeks Bay Watershed.
In online listings, the Belforest Corn Branch Tract is described as a “rare opportunity to purchase a large, contiguous tract of land in one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. This property has not been sold in several generations, and it shows. Road frontage with utilities in two locations, areas of towering oaks and pines and abundant frontage on scenic Corn Branch are just a few of the premium attributes of this tract. With very little wetlands overall and gentle to flat topography, this property is ideal for multiple types of development, and the quality deer, turkey, quail and dove hunting makes it ideal for use as a recreational property, private farm, equestrian use or conservation tract.”
The MacBride Landfill accepts yard rubbish and construction and demolition (C&D) debris, but does not accept hazardous materials, household trash, oils, paints, barrels, batteries, asbestos or any container that has held food products.
Graham said the county also has plans to reopen the 144-acre Eastfork Landfill off Cactus Court in Elberta, which was leased to a private company for three years beginning in 2009 before going dormant, according to county records. Graham said Eastfork has maintained an active C&D permit, but has been on standby as a potential staging site for storm debris.
“There is a lot of construction in that area of the county,” she said. “We are going to have to get some equipment and staffing to bring that site back up, but we plan to look at that toward the end of summer and make budget requests by October.”
The Baldwin County Solid Waste Department serves around 40,000 residents of unincorporated areas and also offers 30 drop-off locations. It manages Magnolia Landfill, a municipal solid waste facility in Summerdale, and the Bay Minette Transfer Station.
The department also processes and markets its own recycling, Graham said, and has endured recent market changes that have caused many municipal recycling programs to fail.
“We recycle plastic, aluminum, cardboard and mixed paper,” she said. “It does present a challenge, but we’ve been able to endure some of the struggle [because] we have not gone to single-stream recycling. Our boxes are separated into three compartments so it’s not so labor intensive to sort. We’re not trying to hand-pick material.”
Graham said the department is currently considering municipal partnerships for its recycling program, but “it’s too early to say what that will mean.”
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