York County’s longtime incumbent councilman Curwood Chappell endorsed a Rock Hill lawyer for the District 5 seat – setting off a race between two Republican challengers and reviving a landfill issue that spawned two county lawsuits.
Chappell, who has served 11 consecutive council terms since 1992, declined a re-election bid and held a news conference outside his family-owned veterinarian hospital south of Rock Hill on Tuesday morning.
He gave a nod of approval and a hug to Republican candidate Christi Cox – a partner of Hamilton Martens Ballou & Carroll. “I’m not telling you how to vote, I’m telling you how I’m going to vote,” Chappell said, after officially endorsing Cox.
“She has helped you beyond your imagination,” Chappell said of her work to block plans for a York County landfill several years ago, which involved visiting state legislators in Columbia. “She has not ever charged this county, not one red cent,” he said of her landfill work.
Cox specializes in commercial litigation. The firm is under contract with the county in a suit against the Morningstar tower in the Fort Mill area, but Cox is not involved in that case.
During the news conference, Cox mentioned opponent Marty Taylor’s involvement with a landfill deal that has been tied up in court since 2008 and seeks millions of dollars in damages.
The county is embroiled in two landfill suits that sparked after a county moratorium against landfills: one against C&D Management, and another against Greeneagle.
Taylor, a building inspector in Fort Mill, set up Greeneagle when he and a business associate tried to develop a landfill in the Clover area but were unable to receive a permit after the moratorium. He said he has divested all legal power to pursue the Greeneagle suit to C&D Management, but he is still listed as a principal company owner.
“The Greeneagle land contract is gone and the site will never be permitted as a landfill,” Taylor wrote in a statement. “It’s over.”
Taylor also said he doesn’t want anything to do with landfills and would never vote on a landfill issue if elected to serve on the council.
“I am not a landfill developer, I am a building inspector,” he wrote. “This campaign is about my genuine desire for the public to be more involved in all York County issues.”
Cox is running on a platform that emphasizes her and Chappell’s work to block plans for landfills, with a pledge to “vigilantly protect our community from out-of-state waste,” according to a campaign statement.
Mike Griffin of C&D Management is spearheading both lawsuits and confirmed that Taylor is not actively involved in the Greeneagle lawsuit and is not a stakeholder in the C&D lawsuit, which seeks $15 million in damages for a different site.
He added that the bulk of the $5 million in damages being sought in the Greeneagle case will go to his company, not to Taylor.
According to Griffin, Taylor would only recoup about $300,000, which Taylor and an associate spent getting necessary permission for a landfill before the moratorium began.
The county is appealing a decision that upheld C&D’s permit. “The county keeps throwing the money at it,” Griffin said of the C&D lawsuit. “We keep going through this unbelievably long process that would bankrupt anyone else.”
County Attorney Michael Kendree did not respond to a call for comment.