Just across the border in Stokes County a local landowner has applied to that county’s board of commissioners to rezone about 80 acres of land to put what is being commonly called a land farm there.
A land farm essentially is a place where toxic substances are dumped, such as hydrocarbons and pesticides, and then those are tilled into the ground, much like a farming would till old dried up plants into the ground. Periodically the ground is retilled, with the substances eventually breaking down — a lot like a home composting pile, only significantly larger.
The idea behind such operations is to find cheap ways to dispose of these substances, which presumably eventually break down into natural substances that are not harmful.
The proposed operation, just outside the Pilot town limits, has stirred quite a bit of controversy, with area landowners, businesses, and even governments opposing the move.
This issue is a classic case of conflicting rights. This region of the country has a long history of being ardently in favor of individual land owner rights, with a minimum of government interference. Folks in these parts are similar to people everywhere, though, in that their respect for individual land owner rights seems to take a backseat when a neighbor is doing something they don’t like.
Occasionally they have a legitimate reason to be leery, and this is one of those times.
We recognize that far too often when people hear of something like a land farm being considered for development, emotion displaces reason. Those who oppose the development are too quick to think of all the potential bad consequences such a development might have, however unfounded some of those fears might be.
However, in the case of a land farm, the potential for serious damage to the local environment — and even outside the immediate area through waste water runoff — does exist.
At the very least we hope the Stokes County Board of Commissioners, before taking any action, takes a good, hard, long look at the science of the request, bringing in an independent expert to study the proposal and offer independent advice to the board.
If such due-diligence could prove too expensive to the county, or cannot be done in a timely fashion, then we suggest the commissioners there simply turn down the request.