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Moretown queries state reps about post-landfill state assistance

The Moretown Select Board invited The Valley’s representatives to the state Legislature, Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) and Adam Greshin (I-Warren), to their meeting on Tuesday, February 19, to inquire about state assistance for the town should Moretown Landfill close.

Right now, Moretown Landfill is awaiting a March 8 decision from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) as to whether permits for two of its existing trash cells will be recertified. The ANR issued an “intent to deny” the landfill’s recertification in December after a string of on-site environmental violations, but the agency is considering some 200 public comments—as well as the landfill’s—before it makes a final decision.

If Moretown Landfill’s cells are not recertified, the facility will soon reach capacity and will have to close. When it does, Moretown will lose out on the over $500,000 annually it receives from the landfill in tipping fees and property taxes.

Already, the landfill has reduced its trash intake by 90 percent, and Moretown is beginning to get a sense of its financial impact. This past January, Moretown received about $13,000 in tipping fees from the landfill, where in January of 2012 it had received about $46,000, select board chair Tom Martin explained.

This potential loss of revenue “is significant for us as a town,” Martin explained to Grad and Greshin. “The residents are certainly worried about what’s going to happen.”

Martin then went on to ask the representatives if there is anything the state can do to create a “soft landing” for the town if the landfill closes.

“Maybe not a soft landing, but a gentle crash landing,” select board member Clark Amadon later clarified.

“They [the state] would certainly be willing to address this issue,” Greshin responded, and Grad added that she believes there are options available, at least in the short term, and that they’ll look into them.

Certainly, the town has benefitted from hosting the landfill, “but this is a site that has benefitted a significant part of the state as well,” Amadon said, explaining Moretown’s request for out-of-town help.

While many of the comments submitted to the ANR during its public comment period come from Moretown residents both in support of and against the landfill’s recertification, many comments came from out-of-towners, such as small business owners worried about having to pay more to ship their trash farther if one of the state’s two landfills closes.

Moretown Landfill’s fate lies in the hands of the state, but ultimately, “We need to be responsible for all of the things we produce and throw away,” Amadon said.

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