Controversial Murfreesboro landfill loses court fight to expand

Two-year fight over Middle Point Landfill ends

By: - September 12, 2023 6:00 am
A Nashville landfill, not operated by BFI. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A landfill in Nashville (Photo: John Partipilo)

Owners of Middle Tennessee’s biggest landfill lost a legal bid to expand their site by nearly 100 acres, with a court ruling on Friday that regional officials had correctly followed the rules in rejecting the plan.

The order from Judge Russell Perkins brings to a close a two-year legal fight in Davidson County Chancery Court initiated by operators of Middle Point Landfill in the hopes of expanding its footprint in rapidly growing Rutherford County.

Operators of Middle Point Landfill — the landfill’s corporate owner is Republic Services, the nation’s No. 2  landfill operator — said Monday they plan to appeal the decision.

The landfill accepts household waste from 37 counties; its owners have said it would near capacity by 2028 with few alternatives for waste disposal anywhere in Middle Tennessee.

But it drew intense opposition from local leaders and residents, who complained about its odors and environmentalists, who in a separate lawsuit have alleged it polluted local waterways.

Shane McFarland, Murfreesboro’s mayor, on Monday called the decision “a big win for the community.”

“The City will remain steadfastly opposed to any expansion of the landfilling operations at Middle Point,” he said.

Dispute over Murfreesboro’s Middle Point Landfill goes to court


Mike Classen, Middle Point’s general manager, said the company would continue to work with local officials to avert a “trash crisis” and is “confident we can reach a favorable outcome.”

“Middle Point is committed to serving Rutherford County and Middle Tennessee over the long term,” Classen said. “The only way this is possible is through an expansion of our facility. This decision means Middle Tennessee is one step closer to a trash crisis. The clock is ticking, and finding a solution is now paramount.”

The lawsuit was filed in 2021 by BFI Waste Systems Services, Republic Services’ Tennessee subsidiary, against the Central Tennessee Regional Solid Waste Planning Board.

It alleged the board failed to follow the law in deciding to reject the expansion plan. The city of Murfreesboro joined the lawsuit in 2021.

Perkins, the judge, ruled the regional board made some “harmless errors” in the procedures they followed to reject the expansion plan, but found its decision to be valid.

“The parties and the public had a fulsome opportunity to present, engage in dialogue, and be heard before the Board,” the order said. “Additionally, the Board had sufficient evidence before it, as well as sufficient time to review and consider the information presented.”

Middle Point Landfill


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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.