The Vance County Board of Adjustment voted unanimously Thursday night to deny a conditional-use permit for a land clearing inert debris landfill in Kittrell.
“In the grand scheme of environmental issues, a LCID landfill in Vance County does not make major headlines, but this is a huge win for the residents of Egypt Mountain Road. It would have completely upended their lives, so that makes the win really impactful,” said Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell. “It’s also a win for water quality in the Tar River basin.”
The conditional-use permit had been under consideration by the Vance County board since August 2020, when property owner Kenneth Harrison III requested the permit that would allow a landfill to be built on 83 rural and residential acres that include Long’s Creek, which runs into Tabb’s Creek, a tributary of the Tar River.
The issue played out during a series of hearings held from September to January, in which residents aired their concerns — including impact on the environment, health and increased traffic down residential roads — and experts were called in to give testimony as lawyers for the property owner and a group of neighboring residents argued for and against the permit. While Vance County BOA members during the January hearing noted a conditional-use permit for the landfill did not violate any statutes and is an approved use of the land, they also acknowledged a landfill would not be “in harmony with the surrounding area,” nor promote public health and safety — requirements for granting the permit. Attorneys were asked to present their findings of fact, for and against, Thursday for review by the board.
Howell, who testified before the board about the potential water-quality impact, became involved in the issue after residents of the land’s adjacent properties reached out for help to navigate the initial public comments hearing. She said early engagement by the community on issues at the county level can be especially significant to outcomes.
“This type of providing technical assistance and showing up for community is the kind of work I love. It does really matter, and it does make a difference,” Howell said.
There may be next steps, according to Howell: Harrison has 30 days to appeal the Vance County Board of Adjustment’s decision.
“We’re in a waiting game to see if they’re going to appeal or not,” Howell said.