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Moretown Select Board hears suggestions for tighter host-town agreement

By Rachel Goff

On Monday, March 31, the Moretown Select Board held a special meeting to gather public input on the revision of its host-town agreement with Moretown Landfill.

The Route 2 facility closed last summer, but Moretown Landfill submitted a permit application to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to construct a fourth trash cell on site in November. The state's review of the application is currently on hold as Moretown Landfill puts together additional information that the ANR has requested.

"It's a wait-and-see, right now," landfill manager Bill Kernan said last Monday. But in the meantime, Moretown is getting ready.

In addition to obtaining a permit from the ANR, Moretown Landfill will need to obtain permits from the state's District 5 Act 250 commission and the Moretown Development Review Board (DRB) before it can re-open. As a town, however, "we have to move forward [on the host-town agreement] as if it's a done deal," select board member Michelle Beard said. "Otherwise we'll end up behind the game."

Moretown's previous host-town agreement, which expired last summer, ensured the town received upwards of $500,000 per year from the landfill in tipping fees and property taxes. But it's not all about money.

So far, the select board has identified several things it hopes to accomplish in the new host-town agreement, including better communication, more town oversight, control over the types of waste the landfill takes in, inclusion in correspondence between the landfill and the state, possibly changing zoning laws for the site and instituting a "good neighbor" policy.

Last Monday, a handful of residents spoke up about what they'd like to see in the new host-town agreement, such as implementing a payment schedule for the landfill's tipping fees, which were called into question last year because the agreement's terms were not tight enough.

"Money is important, but money can't buy clean air, clean water and clean soil," another resident said, explaining that the host-town agreement must provide for the protection of natural resources, in addition to policies put in place by the ANR.

Also concerned about the town's oversight of the facility, "How do we account for what [the landfill] is bringing in?" one resident asked. "Do we just take their word for it?" Another resident proposed employing someone from the town to sit in the scale house and keep track of the facility's trash intake.

Taking public comment into consideration, the select board hopes to complete a draft of the new host-town agreement by the end of the summer, which they will then submit to residents for feedback before turning it over to a professional.

In the meantime, the select board will work on a different section of the host-town agreement at each of its upcoming meetings, which are open to the public. "I hope going forward we can continue to get participation [in the rewrite]," select board chair Tom Martin said, especially "people willing to come with an open mind."

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