The ongoing process of revising the landfill conditional use permit (CUP) was again set to a standstill with the arrival of new objections from neighbors.
The Butler County Commission took up the issue again at their meeting Tuesday morning.
Currently, the standing CUP allows for the use of the landfill and stipulates the land to the east is to be used only as agricultural land. The revised CUP, which was passed by the planning and zoning commission earlier this year, was discussed in length by the commission and stipulations were added after hearing several concerns by the neighbors.
“Thank you for letting us give some input in this process,” commented neighbor Vickie Schwemmer, “but we still object to the moving of the soil from the agricultural land. My first choice would be for you to keep your word given us in 1995. The 53 acres were to remain agricultural according to Resolution 95-026.”
As this point was brought to the attention to the commission, Commissioner Dan Woydziak and County Administrator Will Johnson took a moment to state legally the land would not have to be rezoned. The land could remain agricultural while being used for the borrowing of soil.
Schwemmer went on to explain last Tuesday (Aug. 27), about 90 days after receiving the first bits of information about the landfill changes, residents learned about what is referred to as the dome, which is a 50-foot vertical extension on top of the current landfill.
“After reading an article in the Augusta Daily Gazette, we learned that the dome was placed in the application that was sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in May,” Schwemmer said. “The dome was not mentioned at the planning commission, any county commission meetings until Aug. 27, or in any letters written to surrounding landowners.”
“The commission is going back on promises,” said Amanda Mosteller, the daughter of Vickie Schwemmer. “Would you want this to happen across from your house? What would it do to your property value? Would it affect how you live in your own home? I want you to sincerely sit down and think about that. It does matter for the future.”
“It really seems like one of the fundamental things going on here is the issue of trust,” commented Commissioner Ed Myers. “We are revisiting a past topic now and the interchange was somewhat tense between the members of the public and county staff. I really think you neighboring landowners have done a great service in expressing yourselves to us.”
The revised CUP, which was passed by the Planning and Zoning Commission in July of this year, was given no stipulations until the issue was brought before the County Commission. Once the protest of the neighbors was brought before the members of the County Commission, stipulations and certain criteria began to surface in an open discussion with the neighboring landowners.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think to a large extent the system is working,” continued Myers. “There is this thing about the promises. When you get down to brass tacks, there is almost nothing that this commission, or the one in 1995, that we decide to do that the future board couldn’t undo. It is really irresponsible for me to say that this is going to be forever. The best we can do is make a complete of record as possible so that all of us as a commission will have a full understanding of why we’ve done things this way, but if we make a decision that is well thought out, it is probably going to stand longer than if we were going to just fly by the seat of our pants. I’m in a state of mind, I think we oughtent act on this thing today. We need to let some of these things gel a little bit.”
“The approval of the application to KDHE needed to be an agenda item because of the importance of it so that the public could come in and have knowledge in it,” commented Commissioner Peggy Palmer. “This is where the trust issue comes in.”
“No decision was made on April 16 to approve or deceive anybody, that motion was to send it (the application) on for the public hearing and hold the discussion meeting, then it had come before this board,” replied Commissioner Dan Woydziak.
“We can start anew by putting this on the agenda and finding out what is in it,” added Palmer. “What’s the rush? This is an important issue for these people to have in their backyard.”
Ultimately, the inevitable relationship between the application for the permit through KDHE and the borrowing of the soil from the section of property between Boyer road and NE Corridor prevents either issue from moving forward until some compromise is reached.
“I find that there is a relationship between the permit and the borrow dirt issue,” said Myers. “There’s still questions that I want answers to.”
“Hopefully the commission can bring in a detailed list of questions and concerns of what information is needed,” said Johnson.
The issue was then tabled for further discussion at a later date with the stipulation that the outstanding issues be addressed.