Dump sites operate in Knoxville despite orders to stop

11:40 PM, Dec 1, 2011   |    comments
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Two dump sites, deemed illegal by the state and the City of Knoxville, continue to operate despite official orders to shut down.

Greenphalt Recycling, Inc runs the dumps on Lexington Drive in West Knoxville and Boruff Street in East Knoxville.  They opened a few months after the spring storms, and are sites for roofing-repair companies to dispose of used shingles.

"The value of that 50 thousand pounds of shingles sitting on the ground is worth about $3 million dollars to us," said co-owner Ron Schmidt.

Despite their booming business, the City of Knoxville and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) have issued Greenphalt zoning violations at both dump sites.   The city said they are operating as a landfill in a general industrial zone. That means Greenphalt cannot get proper permits from the city or the state to operate. 

Greenphalt has applied for re-zoning with the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC). 

"We're willing to accept any fines until somebody can get us a structured plan of operation that we finally feel like they know what they're doing as a city and state entity," said Schmidt.

Knoxville Director of Public Works Steve King said the operations are "illegal" until the zoning and permit issues are sorted out.  According to King, both Greenphalt and the land owners could be fined for not ceasing operations.

"The City of Knoxville's issue is that they don't have the proper permits to do what they're doing, and it seems that it would be difficult to permit what they're doing," said King.

Greenphalt owners said the collection sites are temporary and are not landfills. They plan to eventually grind up the shingles, turn them into asphalt, and truck them to a company in Arizona. 

Neighbors near the West Knoxville location, like Tim McManus, just want the sites cleaned up.

"As time wore on, the pile has become closer, larger, and walls have been built and now the piles are over the walls," said McManus.

MPC staff will release a recommendation for re-zoning on Friday.  The board will vote on that at their monthly meeting Thursday, December 8, 2011.  The outcome of that vote will determine if the state permit process can move forward.

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