Collierville candidates weigh in on landfill

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 26, 2020 9:06 AM CT | Published: October 24, 2020 4:00 AM CT
<strong>The town of Collierville filed a complaint in 2019, claiming the landfill is an odor nuisance, noise nuisance and safety hazard to residents</strong>. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

The town of Collierville filed a complaint in 2019, claiming the landfill is an odor nuisance, noise nuisance and safety hazard to residents. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

Collierville has a problem and it stinks.

The Eplex landfill on Shelton Road is an ongoing issue for the town. Residents in nearby neighborhoods can smell it from inside their homes. Town leaders sued Norman Brown, the landfill operator, in June 2019 over negligently operating it and residents also filed a lawsuit. 

The state Department of Environment & Conservation has the most oversight over the landfill. The town’s lawsuit addressed odor, noise and safety concerns.

“The total board has been unanimous in moving forward to sue the landfill for any nuisances,” said Alderman John Worley, who is seeking another term for Alderman Position 3. He was limited in what he could say due to pending litigation.

“Every person on the board wants to get things resolved for the best interest of the neighbors. … Unfortunately, COVID has slowed down some of the progress of court hearings,” Worley said.

Aldermen met with attorneys Thursday about the lawsuit. Since the matter is ongoing, the session was closed to the public.


Defendants respond to Collierville landfill complaint


Harold Booker, who is challenging Worley, said residents near the landfill feel they are not getting answers from board members after years of complaints. Some question if the smell is from the water treatment plant nearby.

“You gotta be transparent. (The residents) are owed an answer, and they haven’t gotten one,” Booker said. “As alderman, I will continue to push to get an answer back to them, to get both of them tested and the information released.”


Booker, Swan challenging Worley for Collierville Alderman Position 3


When the town filed the lawsuit, it provided evidence showing the landfill’s decomposing drywall and hydrogen sulfide was the cause of the odor. 

Thomas Swan, another challenger for Position 3, recalled the study and said the gas released is a “health hazard.”

“It’s a tragedy that (the issue) has gone on as long as it has,” Swan said. “I’m not sure what the town can do, but I’d like to see the town doing everything in its power to address the issue.” 


Frazier challenges incumbent Stamps for Alderman Position 5 in Collierville


Greg Frazier, who is challenging John Stamps for Position 5, lives near the landfill. He wants to make sure “solid evidence” supports the stench’s source.

Frazier knows Brown from Rotary Club, but recognizes residents are frustrated by the length of time the lawsuit is taking.

“It needs to be resolved one way or the other,” he said. “The delays need to be removed. They need to be more aggressive.”

Stamps, who was limited in his comments because of the ongoing lawsuit, said some people expressed concern that the town was not working to resolve the stench. 

“We’re doing everything we can,” Stamps said. “If it affects our residents, it affects us. … Fair trial and due process take time.”

Missy Marshall, one of six seeking Position 4, said she doesn’t know enough about the landfill to cite specifics.

“I’m happy to address issues and listen to both sides and then try to come up with a solution that is in the best interest of the residents,” she said, noting she is willing to research. “I do commit – if elected – to learning more about it.”

She said mediation may be an option, as it was one avenue at the state level.


Six seeking Alderman Position 4; runoff likely


Like Marshall, Scott Rozanski, another Position 4 candidate, couldn’t say much due to limited knowledge of the situation but wants to learn more.

“I’m interested in gathering facts, looking at details, looking at the two sides of an issue and then doing what’s best for the community.”

Connor Lambert is seeking Position 4 and lives in Halle Plantation, so he is familiar with the ‘rotten egg” scent neighbors describe.

Lambert understands litigation takes time. He would like to see a resolution that fixes the problem. He wants a focus group with stakeholders and neighbors to examine the issue.

“I don’t think the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is doing enough to hold the dump accountable or enforce previous agreements,” he said. “The aldermen can’t capture the complexity of the issue.”

He thinks the town could better communicate with residents what it is doing about the ongoing issue.

Rob Smith, a Position 4 hopeful, previously lived close to the landfill and is “no stranger to the smell.” He said if the town finds an opportunity to mitigate the odor, it should look into it.

“After the lawsuit, I haven’t heard a lot of progress being made,” he said. “Just because I live on the other side of town doesn’t mean it’s any less important to me. I definitely want to make sure the whole town is taken care of. … So if there is more to be done on that, I definitely want to do figure out what else can be done and push in that direction.”

Rick Rout, another candidate for Position 4, and claims town leaders are falling short in their duties.

“The town is not doing enough for the simple reason that developers, who are also aldermen, have contracts with the developer,” he said. “We’re at a stalemate where we were 10 years ago.”

He said Brown has not kept his portion of an agreement the town entered with him 20 years ago to limit the hours of work, smell and hazards in the area.

William Boone, another Position 4 candidate, is more in favor of the citizens than he is of Brown. However, Brown may be doing everything he can to keep the smell down, according to Boone.

“The town needs to exhaust all their options,” he said. “I’ll do whatever benefits them and fight for these residents as much as I can. … I’ll talk to the agencies I can.”

Brown, when reached by phone, declined to comment about the landfill due to pending litigation.

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Topics

Collierville election 2020 collierville elections landfill Collierville landfill Norman Brown
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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