Crews at work atop the Denton landfill in 2018. The city plans to expand the landfill by 100 acres to the north.

Denton’s plans to expand its landfill on Mayhill Road another 100 acres to the north, and another 200 feet high, has triggered opposition from neighbors, residents and environmental activists.

About 60 people participated in a protest hearing held online late last month by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Many were concerned that the expansion would mean even more trash and recyclables coming from outside the community to be buried in Denton.

Currently, about half the waste coming to Denton’s landfill is coming from sources other than the 145,000 people who live in Denton, said Brian Boerner, the city’s solid waste director.

That practice brought the Texas Campaign for the Environment to the table.

Kevin Richardson, the advocacy group’s zero-waste organizer, said Lewisville’s landfill is expected to close in about three years, likely affecting where the region’s trash will go.

“Is this landfill expansion for the good of the community or to allow the city to import more trash from outside cities and businesses?” Richardson asked.

One speaker asked whether the city would create an artist’s rendering of how high the hill would become so people would understand the change being proposed for the local landscape.

Boerner told hearing participants that the Denton City Council had the authority to limit not only the final height of the landfill but also the contracts to accept trash from outside the community, most of which expire in the next two years.

The city opened the landfill on Mayhill Road in 1984. In 1997, the site expanded to its current footprint, which is expected to run out of space in about 15 years, Boerner said.

The city began planning to expand the landfill back in 2004, including buying the land needed to expand and ordering the engineering and planning permits to ensure compliance with all federal and state environmental laws.

Boerner told the hearing participants that the additional land includes about 66 acres to buffer operations from the surrounding community.

The city has invested about $11 million and 15 years preparing for the expansion, which should extend the landfill’s life nearly 75 years at current disposal levels, Boerner said.

The city continues to work on its programs to boost recycling and other programs that divert trash from the heap, he added. Denton’s 28% recycling rate is about 6 percentage points higher than the state average and also higher than recycling rates in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Resident and participant Brad Pollock said he was concerned the expansion would affect the Ryan High School campus more with more dust and odors. The campus is about 2 miles north of the landfill.

Crews at the landfill work to minimize dust and odors, particularly from getting off the site, Boerner said.

However, the weather sometimes affects those conditions for many nearby residents and businesses on Denton’s east side.

Longtime resident Sharon Speiss, who lives just north of the landfill, has noticed more truck traffic on Mayhill Road.

“The odor and blown trash that already exists are greater than they should be,” Speiss said.

In addition to the online public hearing, residents and activists provided dozens of written comments, most opposing the landfill’s expansion.

The comments become part of the public record that goes to the TCEQ commissioners.

The TCEQ staff will make a recommendation, but it’s the commissioners who grant, modify or deny Denton’s permit application.

Generally, the commissioners meet twice a month. Denton’s permit application has not yet been scheduled for a commission agenda.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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