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For months, those who live within a mile of Moretown Landfill have actively opposed its plans to expand, speaking up at Development Review Board (DRB) hearings about how the off-site odors inhibit their daily lives. But now, as the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) considers whether Moretown Landfill can continue to operate—let alone expand—those who live a little further from the facility have come forward to share their opinions against and in support of Moretown Landfill.
Tuesday, February 5, marked the end of the public comment period regarding the ANR’s “intent to deny” Moretown Landfill’s recertification request for two existing trash cells due to the facility’s recent inability to comply with state environmental standards. Now, the ANR has 45 days to consider over 200 public comments before it issues a final decision.
Many of the comments— which can be viewed on the Agency’s website—come from Citizens for Landfill Environmental Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR), the local coalition formed during the DRB hearings.
CLEAR comments argue that the topography of Moretown Landfill and its proximity to residential areas is unsuited to its operation—no matter how much Advanced Disposal Services, the company that inherited Moretown Landfill this past September, argues that it can eliminate off-site odors through new technology and better management practices.
Other comments, however, ask ANR to give Advanced Disposal more time to test out the over $450,000 it has invested in the facility since it took over ownership, as many improvements to the landfill were finalized only last month.
But does Moretown Landfill deserve a second chance? Other comments argue that the state needs to send a message that Vermont’s environmental health is a top priority and ignoring the landfill’s numerous violations would counteract that message.
But what happens if the ANR does deny Moretown Landfill’s request to recertify its cells, and the facility closes due to lack of available space? Many comments come from Moretown residents who rely on the landfill’s half-million-dollar host agreement with the town to reduce a tax rate they would otherwise be unable to afford.
Many comments also come from those who don’t live in Moretown—or anywhere near Moretown—but whose lives could change if one of the state’s two landfills closed. Those comments are from small business owners, who fear the increased cost of having to ship their trash to further locations. They can barely afford overhead fees as they are, they say, and the state’s economy would suffer as a result.
Those comments also come from towns that lie between The Valley and Coventry, as letters from Lamoille County’s planning commission, economic development commission and chamber of commerce express a need for Moretown Landfill, as increased truck traffic through Stowe since Moretown Landfill reduced its intake within the past couple of months has already imparted considerable wear and tear on the area’s roads. They’re not prepared to deal with an influx in trash, they say.
Comments also express concern over the increased carbon emissions as a result of trucks having to travel farther, as well as the carbon emissions associated with constructing a new landfill. Many comments state that they would rather see an existing site brought into compliance than abandoned.
Perhaps the key word throughout the consideration process is “compliance.”
Overwhelmingly, the comments state that Moretown Landfill will have to demonstrate that it can operate in compliance with state standards in order to receive recertification, and many propose stricter permit conditions and potential benefits for those who have suffered from the facility’s past faults.
The comments can be read at the Agency of Natural Resources Moretown Landfill page: