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Divided Council Approves Controversial Dallas Waste Flow Plan

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A divided Dallas City Council approved a controversial plan that will make all the city’s trash flow through southern Dallas on its way to the landfill.

Some neighbors of the city’s McCommas Landfill are literally holding their noses while supporting the so-called flow control plan, which narrowly passed Wednesday with a 9-6 vote.

Currently only residential waste, not commercial, goes to the landfill. Commercial waste will now go there as well, and the waste industry isn’t happy about it. But there’s big money in garbage; Mayor Mike Rawlings said the plan could bring $15 to $18 million into the city coffers.

“Trash is valuable; it’s a valuable commodity,” said councilman Jerry Allen during Wednesday’s council meeting.

So in exchange for the nuisance of more thru-traffic in neighborhoods near the city’s McCommas Landfill, the deal also promises $1 million a year in economic development for the area.

Still, it’s not an easy sell for neighbors who’ve heard such promises before. Dr. Stephen Nash, a reverend at the nearby Mt. Tabor Baptist Church, grudgingly went along with the flow control plan, but hates that the idea was born from trash.

“Yet we are thankful that it is our best gateway to real economic development,” he told councilmembers.

“This is not just a one year deal; we’re looking to the future of our community,” added Charles Rose, another area resident.

“Thirty-plus years, no grocery stores,” lamented councilman Tennell Atkins, who supported the measure. “What is best for the community that lives in that area?”

Others don’t think the money is worth the landfill hassles. A group from nearby Paul Quinn College stood silently in protest throughout much of the debate, which split members from the southern sector.

“One, I believe it is environmental injustice,” said councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill. “It does not promote, in my opinion, economic development.”

The deal was nearly derailed when Councilman Sheffie Kadane tried a parliamentary maneuver to send the issue to a task force for more review; that failed by only a single vote.

The final vote for approval was 9 to 6. Outside, critics – mainly businesses and corporations that currently haul commercial waste – hint they may sue.

“This is going to raise the cost of business in Dallas by more than $19 million a year,” said Tom Brown, a spokesman for the National Solid Wastes Management Association.

Another trade group source warned that lawsuits could tie up the issue for several years.

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