Leader Blues

Friday, March 28, 2008

TOP STORY > > Landfill meeting to hear neighbors’ views

Leader staff writer

An informal public meeting will be held Monday, April 14 in Jacksonville to discuss the proposed expansion of the landfill at the city’s south entrance.

The meeting, held by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), will be at 6 p.m. in the Jacksonville Community Center.

“My understanding is they want to meet with interested citizens,” ADEQ spokesman Doug Szhener said, adding that the meeting was called in response to comments the agency received during the public comment period last month.

ADEQ staff from its Solid Waste Management Division, which will decide if the landfill will be expanded, will answer questions at the meeting. If the permit is approved, the landfill would be expanded to almost three times its current size.

Waste Management, which owns the Two Pine landfill, will attend the meeting to answers residents’ questions.

That company wants to add 144 acres to the existing landfill at the intersection of Hwy. 67/167 and Interstate 440. Waste Management owns the land it wants to use to expand its 86-acre trash dump. The permit would expand the landfill to 240 acres with the capacity to hold 34.5 million cubic yards of trash. The company says it needs to expand because the dump at its current size will be full by this fall.

At a city council meeting earlier this month, Waste Management representatives said th original land marked for the landfill was disrupted by the construction of I-440, which cut into about 50 percent of the original dumpsite.

After ADEQ makes a final decision on the Two Pine expansion, the agency says anyone who comments during the meeting will “have legal standing to file an appeal of the permit decision, in accordance with procedures found in Regulation 8 of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission.”

It previously noted in a legal notice meant to inform the public of last month’s comment period that only people who submitted comments then would be able to appeal the agency’s final decision.

After the public comment period, the agency will submit a response to the information it has received.

“We usually reply with written form,” Szenher said about the the agency’s response. “There will be a written-response summary either before the meeting or handed out at the meeting itself,” Szenher said.

He made clear that the meeting is not a formal hearing.

“Primarily, from a legal standing, a hearing is one that requires legal notice as opposed to making an announcement,” he said.

A record of the meeting will not be made. A meeting, he said, will be a less formal discussion.

It’s mainly done for interested citizens to discuss the permit application.

The state agency received comments signed by about 40 complainants during the public-comment period last month.

The landfill is near subdivisions Indianhead Lakes in Sherwood and North Lake in Jacksonville, and also Rixie.

Waste Management has been attempting to expand the Two Pine landfill since 2006. While it waits for its expansion application to be approved, it has asked ADEQ for permission to begin preliminary construction to expand the site.

“Sometimes we will authorize work for a qualifier with the party involved, but there’s no guarantee that a final permit will be issued, they might have to undo or abandon the work,” Szenher said.

That letter was received Thursday morning and the agency has not yet looked into the request permission to begin wetland mitigation construction and other work that according to Szenher, ADEQ “would have to authorize in absence of the permit approval which is still pending.”