- The Waco City Council has unanimously approved the $396,550 purchase of an additional 20.01 acres of land near Axtell, Texas for a proposed landfill, as reported by KWTX. The council voted earlier this year to spend $5 million on more than 1,200 acres of land.
- This brings the total acquired land to nearly 1,300 acres, with initial plans to permit an estimated 175 acres. The proposed site will replace the existing Waco landfill, which has served nearby communities since 1986, and is currently operating at three times its designed capacity.
- The council also approved an additional $965,395 expenditure for an engineering contract with SCS Engineers "to evaluate sites and to design and permit a new landfill." That contract is now worth more than $2.2 million.
With the current Waco landfill projected to reach full capacity within the next seven years, Waco City Council has taken steps to build a new landfill that can continue serving the area's 11 counties.
While the city had originally planned to use a landfill-adjacent tract of land bound by Highway 84 and Old Lorena Road, it shifted its sights to nearby Axtell after facing strong opposition from residents in the Highway 84 corridor. As a result, the council voted in July for the $1.8 million purchase of 502 acres off T.K. Parkway and also authorized the filing of a landfill permit application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). This was followed by last month’s $3.2 million purchase of an additional 772 acres in Hill and Limestone counties.
However, much like the residents of the Highway 84 area, Axtell community members are pushing back against the proposed landfill. After the city’s 502-acre purchase in July, hundreds of local residents gathered to express concerns regarding impacted property values and water quality, as reported by Waco Tribune-Herald. Axtell leaders have brought up possible legal avenues — including a lawsuit protesting potential violations of federal rules — to support their challenge to the project.
The presence of landfills near residential areas has prompted mounting tensions in recent years between some communities and facilities. While Waco has attempted to ameliorate citizens’ concerns — the new 20.01-acre tract of land, noted Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver at Tuesday's meeting, is intended to provide a buffer against traffic noise and possible odors — the project will no doubt continue to draw public scrutiny in the coming months. The TCEQ permitting process is estimated to take roughly four to five years; in the meantime, Deaver has said that the city currently has no plans to make further land purchases.