Washington County landfill plans scrapped

Posted Jan. 08, 2009, at 10:38 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:04 a.m.

Plans for a new landfill in rural Washington County have been scrapped, at least for now.

The board of directors of the Marion Transfer Station voted in late December not to renew its lease option on a 4,700-acre parcel in Township 14 that had been rezoned for a construction and demolition debris landfill. The facility would have replaced a 6-acre dump in Marion Township that is nearing capacity.

Milan Jamieson, manager of the existing facility, said the vote not to renew the lease option effectively kills the landfill project.

As a result, Jamieson said, construction and demolition debris from Washington County eventually will have to be shipped to other facilities, such as Pine Tree Landfill in Hampden and, eventually, the state-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town. That will significantly increase costs to local residents, he predicted.

“It could be revived, but it would have to be done very quickly,” Jamieson said of the Township 14 project. The parcel is owned by Lakeville Shores Inc., a timber company.

The board has been working to develop the new, larger landfill for more than three years. In August 2007, the Land Use Regulation Commission voted unanimously to rezone 120 acres of the property for the landfill. The actual landfill would have consumed about 30 acres of the site.

But receiving LURC’s stamp of approval was likely the easiest of the regulatory hurdles the board would face. The longer and more costly challenge would have been acquiring necessary permits from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Jamieson said the board has been plagued by lack of participation from the transfer station’s 16 member towns and governments. So few board members were showing up to meetings that they had to lower to five the number of members who needed to be present to carry out business.

Only five of the 16 member towns were represented during the Dec. 23 vote on the lease, and Jamieson had been forced to reschedule the meeting twice that month already because the panel lacked a quorum. The vote was 3-2 against renewing the lease, said Jamieson, who does not have a vote.

Jamieson said the members expressed various reasons for effectively voting to kill the project, including concerns about its cost. Discouraged by the vote, Jamieson said he would have preferred to renew the lease but delay moving forward until the business climate improved.

Opponents of the project welcomed the news, however.

Nancy Oden, a Jonesboro resident and coordinator of the group Clean Water Coalition, predicted the board would have faced an expensive battle to get the landfill built. Her group had challenged the LURC decision in state court and lost, but Oden said the opposition was just beginning to organize.

Oden and other critics predicted that the construction and demolition debris would leach toxic materials into aquifers, rivers and streams populated by endangered Atlantic salmon and into Cathance and Gardner lakes.

Oden and the Clean Water Coalition also successfully fought a landfill proposal for Township 30 about 20 years ago.

“We were going to do the same thing … had they actually submitted an application to the DEP,” Oden said.

The existing Marion Transfer Station accepts both construction and demolition debris and municipal waste, such as household garbage. Revenue from debris imported from outside of Washington County helps subsidize the costs of disposal of locally generated municipal waste, Jamieson said.

He predicted the tipping fees for residents disposing of construction and demolition debris will at least double once the waste has to be shipped to other facilities.

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