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Bristol Tennessee City Council

FOIA request filed by Bristol, Tennessee about Bristol, Virginia landfill still unanswered

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BHC 12052021 Bristol Virginia Landfill 05

Employees at the Bristol Virginia landfill work the trash brought in that day.

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — A Freedom of Information request seeking additional information about Bristol, Virginia’s landfill has gone unanswered despite two extensions, Bristol Tennessee City Manager Bill Sorah told his City Council on Tuesday night.

Bristol, Tennessee officials have hired an attorney and threatened legal action over odor and emissions issues at the Bristol, Virginia landfill, which have persisted for more than a year and are affecting residents in both Bristol cities.

The FOIA request was filed by the city’s legal counsel on Jan. 11, Sorah said. Under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, requests must be responded to within five working days.

“This had an initial response dated Jan. 18, following a request for an extension, then that moved that date to Jan. 25. On [Jan. 27], there was another request by our counsel to Bristol, Virginia’s council to provide an update, to respond to the FOIA request, and we’ve yet to receive a response to that request for information,” Sorah told council members during their regular monthly meeting.

Councilwoman Lea Powers said that while her city waits for a response, citizens continue to suffer.

“In the meantime, we know that we have residents that are suffering physically. … We know that there are people who can’t sleep, we know there are people that are throwing up, we know that there are people with nosebleeds,” Powers said. “We are constantly reminded that we are one Bristol and that we are all working for the betterment of this community. But the lack of communication on the part of our sister at this point begs to wonder are we all really one Bristol working to help all of our citizens maintain their quality of life?”

Powers added that she’s concerned about Bristol, Virginia’s failure to provide any outreach to those affected. Bristol, Tennessee officials teamed up with the United Way of Bristol to provide free air purifiers to Tennessee citizens negatively impacted by the landfill, but Bristol, Virginia officials have provided no direct help to citizens.

In January, Bristol, Tennessee officials also held a public meeting to discuss the landfill issues and the results of tests taken there last fall.

On Thursday, Bristol Tennessee City Council will meet in closed session with its attorney to discuss the next steps the city will take with regard to the landfill issues and the legal options available.

In other matters, council approved: Amendments to the West State Street Redevelopment District that designate the portion of West State between 18th Street and Skateway Drive as a redevelopment district, which adds 52 acres and 39 nine parcels of property and allows the use of tax increment financing incentives; An agreement for the relocation of a sanitary sewer line to make way for a residential development at 1315 Georgia Ave.; Rezoning 23.8 acres by Steele Creek Road from low density single family residential to multi-family residential so the owner, Steele Creek 237, LLC, can move forward with a large residential development.

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