DHEC asks what it can do better

One of the state's most influential public agencies comes to York County this week to get advice on what it can do better.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control is holding regional roundtable meetings around South Carolina to hear frustrations and concerns from local government officials, developers, builders and others who deal with the agency.

"The table's open for anything environmental," said DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick. "We're there to listen. It's basically a time for us to capture any concerns that interested parties have."

Construction and demolition landfills would seem likely to be a hot topic. DHEC has found itself ensnared in recent months in a number of disputes over facilities proposed in York County. DHEC is in charge of issuing permits for the sites, commonly known as C&Ds.

In February, the agency issued a permit for a construction landfill on Vernsdale Road just south of Rock Hill, but neighbors have since sued to block the project. They say City Hall failed to follow its own zoning rules in approving the plan more than two years ago.

The controversy ignited an ongoing feud between the city and York County, and now the fate of other landfills proposed elsewhere in the county remains uncertain.

The issues are so technical and complex that even DHEC's own staff has said it feels overwhelmed.

"It's kind of beyond our level of understanding," DHEC engineer John McCain told The Herald last year. "We're doing the best we can with what we know."

Glenn McCall, the 5th District representative on DHEC's board of directors, said the goal on Thursday is to figure out how the agency can function more smoothly, not just with landfills but in other areas as well. DHEC exerts influence in a wide range of decisions involving groundwater, soil, air quality and other environmental concerns.

In Charleston, McCall said developers, builders and local decision-makers meet to talk about pressing issues.

He thinks such a group might also work well here.

"We thought that was a good model that they instituted down there," McCall said.

What: Rroundtable meeting hosted by DHEC

When: 2 p.m. Thursday

Where: York County government complex, 1070 Heckle Blvd.

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