After several weeks of continual debate and testimony from concerned citizens, the Butler County Commissioners have finally reached a decision regarding the modification of the Butler County landfill conditional use permit (CUP).
The original CUP, which was brought before the commission in early August, has openly been opposed by the citizens neighboring the landfill. Those citizens drafted a petition against the permit and began voicing their concerns to the commissioners.
After hearing the comments from neighbors, the commissioners then began adding certain conditions to the new CUP that would directly address all the issues and invited further input from Butler County staff and interested citizens.
Those conditions included screening, setbacks, hauling operation hours, the schedule and direction of areas excavated for borrowing, internal haul roads, road access to cross railroad tracks, grading, mud control and railroad agreements.
The final stipulation to be added to the permit was requested by Commissioner Ed Myers. This condition would require the borrowing of soil to begin in the southeast corner of the landfill. This would preserve the land that is currently being used as farm ground.
"Instead of going out there right now and disrupting something, they’ll leave it farm ground," explained Director of Public Works Darryl Lutz. "Before they need it, they’ll construct the berm and then start on the east side and work toward west."
Upon the mention of an earlier request for cost evaluations of all the proposed options, Lutz began to explain the cost of the construction of the berm, which would include seeding and trees, would total approximately $36,000. One half mile of internal road, with the issue of crossing two springs, would total $30,000. The cost of paving each railroad crossing would total $33,500. The cost of placing a double chip seal on Kickapoo Road is estimated at $30,000.
In order to further purchase soil for the use of covering the landfill, the estimated cost was $1.88 per cubic yard per mile of travel. The amount of soil required for the project completion is 2 million cubic yards.
"We've already spent tens of thousands of dollars analyzing the soils for the final cover systems," explained Lutz. "There were lots of factors involved in choosing this soil."
A question was then raised by Commissioner Peggy Palmer regarding the purchase of a smaller parcel of land that would allow for a deeper harvest of usable soil.
"If you didn't have the water table factor," said Lutz, "you could dig a hole to China. There comes a point when it becomes too expensive to remove the soil from the dig site."
"We have the first three items listed that total approximately $100,000," commented Myers. "We are leaning towards that because there is test data to back that up. Let’s suppose we consider buying 80 acres for this use, but the cost is $200,000. That exceeds pretty heavily the $100,000 to borrow the dirt from land we already own. From the numbers we’ve seen, borrowing dirt from the land we already own is more economical."
Page 2 of 2 - "That’s what I thought four weeks ago when this whole thing started," commented Commissioner Mike Wheeler.
"To me, it’s the only thing that makes sense," said Commissioner Jeff Masterson.
"This has been a very interesting issue for me," added Myers. "I feel that the process here, what we have today, is just so much better than what we had on August first when this thing first came to us. I think that we’ve proceeded along a path that has addressed constituent concerns and even up to what we’ve included today encompasses a long-term view for the appropriate use of the land and its various functions. I stated in the first discussion that if we were a private business asking for a CUP change, we would be adding some conditions. We’ve come about this process in a very honorable way.
“I feel that we’ve struck a good balance here between addressing the concerns of the neighbors and the needs of the county as a place to dispose and process waste. We've paid attention to the economy and addressed concerns as well as aesthetic concerns of nearby property owners. Without their input, we would not have nearly as good of a CUP proposed."
Myers then moved to approve the emending of the CUP with the amended changes. Palmer then interrupted to propose an amendment that would exempt all neighbors living within 1,000 feet of the Butler County landfill from county property taxes.
"I still have a lot of respect for the original resolution in ‘95. This way, if they ever want to sell their homes, they can say we have a little bit of tax exemption," explained Palmer.
"It is not within the power of the commission to exempt property taxes," explained County Administrator Will Johnson.
The proposed amendment then died for lack of a second. The commission then proceeded to vote on the motion proposed by Myers and the motion was carried 4-1 with Palmer opposing.