By Dave Taylor
After Gary Nugent, Jr. heard that discussion of his landfill permit modification at last week’s Hancock County Fiscal Court meeting hinged partially on the idea that the county is struggling to maintain the road he uses to haul materials, he decided he wanted to get out ahead of misconceptions before they spread.
Nugent sent Todd Thompson to the meeting to represent L.R. Chapman, the company Nugent bought several years ago, and to explain what Nugent saw as a minor paperwork change, but when the change made it seem like truck traffic might increase exponentially, the court balked and said it needed to look into whether the change violated is solid waste ordinance and whether more trucks would mean more road maintenance without more money from Chapman.
“It was just a paperwork error, is what it was,” Nugent said Tuesday. “It absolutely changes nothing at all, zero, from what we’ve been doing (for) years.”
The company has permits for five such landfills, each less than an acre, and each of which must list the counties from which materials come. Current rules say each landfill can take up to 40,000 cubic feet before it’s full, but older permits allow as much material as will fit in the area. When the company ran out of room and waited for another permit for a new landfill, Nugent got permission from the state to go back and use an older landfill that hadn’t been used all the way.
The problem was that unlike the newer permits, the older permit didn’t include the counties in Indiana that the company had been taking material from for years, which led to a notice of violation, a small fine, and the requirement for a modification of the permit to add those Indiana counties.
During the fiscal court meeting the magistrates and judge-executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts questioned the apparent increase in material and by extension, in heavy truck traffic, which tears up roads.
“As far as changing the number of trucks, the amount of trucks, it absolutely changes zero,” Nugent said.
It was simply a matter of making the paperwork match what they were already doing.
“The material’s the same. You’re still limited to what material you can take, it’s just where it’s generated from,” he said.
But Nugent objected to Roberts’ concern that the roads would suffer from increased truck traffic anyway, because he said he’s been paying the county a road maintenance fee for the very purpose of maintaining Poplar Grove Road, which leads to the landfills.
“He does get money for every single ton of material that’s hauled in or hauled out the county gets 20 cents a ton for every single ton that’s in or out,” Nugent said about Roberts. “They get 20 cents a ton and per the agreement we have with them it’s to maintenance Poplar Grove Road.”
Between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019 Nugent’s company had paid $93,404.50 to the county in road fees, Nugent said.
“But we’ve been paying that fee since, I think it’s 2005,” he said.
And the length of Poplar Grove Road between Hilldale Road and KY 657 that the money goes to maintain is just two miles, he said, and at around $100,000 per mile there should be plenty of money there to keep it in good shape for the residents who live there.
“Right now public perception is Gary Nugent’s tearing my roads up and they’re horrible,” he said. “Yeah, but I’m paying to fix them so let’s make them in great shape where the houses are.”
Concern over trash along the roadways has been an ongoing conversation at the county level. Nugent said he has seen the same problems but they don’t originate from his trucks.
“As far as trash, we don’t haul trash, never hauled trash, don’t have a license to haul trash, don’t have any interest in hauling trash,” he said.