SALISBURY – County leaders this week agreed to postpone a land acquisition until residents’ concerns were addressed.
On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council agreed to table a resolution to purchase 69 acres of land adjacent to the Newland Park Landfill.
The resolution presented to the council this week stipulated that the property would only be used as a borrow pit to mine soil for the current landfill, a deviation from the county’s original plans to use the land to expand the dump.
And while nearby residents who initially opposed the landfill expansion supported the idea of using the property as a borrow pit, they argued the resolution would not prevent future leaders from using the property as a landfill in the coming years.
Resident Thomas Tucker asked the council if restrictions could be placed on the deed.
“If this resolution, as written, cannot be changed I’m in favor of the resolution,” he said. “However, if the resolution can be changed later, is there somewhere in the deed that can be stipulated in perpetuity no dump or landfill will be used on that site?”
Resident Talana Watson agreed.
“This looks positive and reads well,” she said, “but I hope something would be added that it would never be a possibility for it to be located there.”
Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes said she had fought against the expansion of the landfill for years, as well as during her time on the Wicomico County Council. She noted the resolution did not stop the county from placing a landfill elsewhere on the west side of Wicomico.
“We on the west side deserve better,” she said.
Councilman Ernie Davis, who represents the residents on the west side, said he would oppose the resolution if it did not protect nearby citizens from any future landfill expansion.
“This isn’t etched in stone,” he said. “It could be changed by the next council. You do have a good concern, and so do I. As you can see, I would be against it.”
Wilber noted that the resolution puts a restriction on the deed, but it did not prevent a future council from voting the change the property’s use.
Councilman Joe Holloway said he wanted to see more protections for nearby residents.
“I think what we need to do is find a different way to do this,” he said, “a more ironclad way to protect these folks.”
After further debate, the council voted 6-0, with Councilman John Hall absent, to table the resolution to Nov. 20 so the county attorney would have time to address questions and concerns.