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Moretown Landfill seeks stay of ANR decision

Owners of Moretown Landfill filed a motion seeking a formal stay of the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) decision requiring the landfill to close.

The landfill had previously filed and received a temporary stay, allowing it to remain open until July 15 during which time its appeal of the ANR decision could be heard. The motion was filed on May 3 and includes an affidavit from the Moretown Select Board urging that the landfill be allowed to stay open.

On March 14, the ANR denied the landfill's renewal application to recertify Cell 3. ANR accepted and reviewed over 200 public comments about the landfill before issuing its decision. That decision required the landfill to stop collecting garbage on April 15. The renewal application had been under review for four years.

The landfill announced it would cease taking trash from the public on April 1 and would continue to accept trash from commercial haulers until April 15. The landfill owners appealed that decision to Vermont Environmental Court and asked for a stay. The court granted a 90-day stay, allowing the landfill to accept trash until July 15 which gave the landfill owners the opportunity to seek a formal stay.

In its May 3 filing, Advanced Disposal set forth four reasons that the stay should be granted. First, its attorneys argued that the ANR lacked statutory authority to deny the landfill's application for the reasons stated and further asserted that the facts pertaining to ANR's allegations as to odor and groundwater likewise do not support ANR's action.

"Second, without a stay, MLI (the landfill) will be forced to cease operations and take drastic actions to close the landfill, irreparably harming MLI, its business reputation, its employees and its customers," company spokesperson Mary O'Brien pointed out in a press release.

"Third, granting a stay will not cause any substantial harm to ANR or the other parties in this case, particularly in light of ANR's four-year delay in acting on MLI's renewal application and given MLI's recent remedial efforts. Finally, a stay is in the public's best interests because the landfill provides an important and somewhat scarce public service (there are only two operating landfill in the state) to area residents," O'Brien continued.

The Moretown Select Board, whose members had not weighed in publicly on the potential landfill closure, after a May 2 meeting had board chair Tom Martin give an affidavit regarding the landfill.

In that affidavit, Martin, on behalf of the board, said, "The select board has seen significant improvements in the operation and performance of the Moretown Landfill since Advanced Disposal changed the management of MLI and the Moretown Landfill."

". . . the select board supports the continued operation of Cell 3 at the Moretown Landfill, and for the permitting of a fourth cell that would comply with town and state regulations," he continued.

"We believe that Advance Disposal has demonstrated, through their knowledge, efforts and results over the past several months, that an environmentally sound landfill can be operated in Moretown," he said.

"It is the responsibility of the select board to protect the public. That is foremost in our minds, so this support does not come lightly. The support is not financially driven, though the landfill certainly does provide an important financial support and other benefits to the town of Moretown and the local area. Instead this support comes with the feeling that businesses have the right to operate in Vermont if they do so in a responsible manner and are in a district zoned for commercial development," Martin's affidavit noted.

The affidavit concludes with a pointed statement about ANR secretary Deb Markowitz who ran for governor in 2008 and lost.

"The select board feels it is the responsibility of the state of Vermont to help existing businesses already in Vermont to grow, as was indicated by now ANR secretary Deb Markowitz in her candidate profile during her gubernatorial campaign," Martin pointed out.

Finally, the select board said that the community and area residents would be greatly and negatively impacted if Cell 3 is shut down during the appeal process.

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