Description and Details

In the ear­ly 1990s, the area of Hol­ly Springs, North Car­oli­na, was pre­dom­i­nant­ly African Amer­i­can in pop­u­la­tion. In 1992, South Wake Coun­ty in South Car­oli­na chose Hol­ly Springs as the area in which to build a new land­fill, as those already exist­ing were fill­ing up. The project was delayed for a num­ber of years, how­ev­er, and as eco­nom­ic growth occurred in the town, its pop­u­la­tion shift­ed, becom­ing more and more White. Although the local gov­ern­ment filed to approve the site of Hol­ly Springs to build in 1992, no per­mit was issued until 1999.

This was met with a loud out­cry of con­tro­ver­sy. In 2000, the Wake Supe­ri­or Court nul­li­fied the per­mit to build the land­fill, and although a sep­a­rate per­mit was re-issued in 2001, the facil­i­ty was not actu­al­ly built until 2008. No tax dol­lars were used to con­struct the land­fill and it is expect­ed to last the com­mu­ni­ty 25 years. Some view the fact that the facil­i­ty was orginal­ly cho­sen to be built in a pre­dom­i­nant­ly African Amer­i­can area as an unfor­tu­nate coin­ci­dence while oth­ers con­sid­er how the legal issues were not rec­og­nized until the demo­graph­ics shift­ed as pos­si­ble dis­crim­i­na­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, African Amer­i­can res­i­dents in the area voiced their con­cerns that this was an ongo­ing pat­tern, and that they were unfair­ly dis­crim­i­nat­ed against in a num­ber of areas.

CEE sub­jects: Con­struc­tion Engi­neer­ing and Man­age­ment, Envi­ron­men­tal Engi­neer­ing, Water Qual­i­ty and Health, Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy and Sus­tain­able Infrastructure

Discussion Questions

  • Why could it have tak­en so long for the orig­i­nal per­mit to be issued?
  • Why did the court sub­mit an order to deny the per­mit after it had been issued? Why was this order not over­turned, and instead anoth­er per­mit was issued?