CHESTER -- A Chester County councilman is asking other local leaders to consider tossing blighted homes and mill sites into the county's landfill, then expanding the dump site.
County Councilman Alex Oliphant has suggested the county waive the fee that municipalities and the county pay to discard items in the construction and demolition landfill on Peden Bridge Road. He said waiving the fee will give the communities another incentive to clean up their run-down properties and get rid of many unwanted buildings at one time.
An outspoken advocate of clearing the area's eyesores, Oliphant long has claimed Chester's dilapidated homes and buildings hurt the county's chances of attracting industrial businesses that could bring much-needed jobs to the area.
The county's double-digit unemployment rate is the third-highest in the state.
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"I believe that everybody understands the need to clean up, and they know how important that is for attracting industry," Oliphant said. "I'm trying to get us there with the least amount of money and pain."
A consultant estimates the landfill has about five to seven years left before it reaches capacity, Oliphant said. Dumping the damaged structures in the landfill will shorten that window, meaning the county will have to expand the landfill.
C&D (construction and demolition) landfills bury construction-related items such as wood, concrete and bricks.
Chester County already has two landfills for construction debris, one on Peden Bridge Road owned by the county and another on S.C. 9 near Lockhart that's privately owned.
A C&D landfill can't be built within 10 miles of another such facility, but expansions of existing sites can be approved, said Adam Myrick, a spokesman with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
There is room at the county's landfill site for the growth, Oliphant said, and expansion possibilities were being discussed before he developed his plan to dump the county's structural eyesores there.
He hopes to gain support from others on the County Council, as well as local officials in the county's cities and towns.
Chester Mayor Mitch Foster said Oliphant's goal, if successful, would save the city of Chester thousands of dollars.
Foster said 26 homes in the city limits were slated to be torn down. But the city didn't budget enough money to finish the project.
"It'd be a tremendous help to us," he said of the landfill idea. "It'd actually cut the cost of disposal, probably by half."