A Woman Complained to Government Officials About a Landfill. The Landfill’s Attorney Told Her, “This Has to Stop.”
The owner of the Shotwell Landfill in southeastern Wake County really, really wants Betty Brandt Williamson to shut up. In fact, David W. King Jr. so badly wants Williamson to stop complaining to county officials about his long-controversial dump that his lawyer, from one of North Carolina's most influential law firms, recently sent her a letter that insists, "This has to stop"—or else.
The April 10 letter, from Poyner Spruill partner Keith Johnson, was sent to Williamson, a landfill neighbor, via certified mail and copied to King, two state environmental regulators, and three Wake County environmental and planning officials. "While you certainly have the right to communicate with such authorities," Johnson wrote, "you do not have the legal right to continue to make false statements and to present false information to them or anyone else about Shotwell's operations or Mr. King. Your communication of false or misleading information is in fact actionable."
In legalese, "actionable" means Shotwell is claiming a basis to sue Williamson for voicing her concerns about the landfill to the local government. At least one other area landowner, who asked not to be named, also received a threatening letter from Poyner Spruill.
King, who bought the landfill in 2005, has maintained that he's made every effort to comply with regulations and to reach out to neighbors of the landfill, which was founded by a different owner in 2000. That's the same year that scenic nearby land near the intersection of Mial Plantation and Smithfield roads, with several buildings that date from the nineteenth century, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the years since, subdivisions have dotted the countryside not far from the Johnston County line, and Shotwell has acquired a wealth of new neighbors. Also during those years, Shotwell has repeatedly approached the Wake County Board of Commissioners to request that its agreement with the county be amended to include more land and to accept more kinds of waste.
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