- Grove City, Pennsylvania

Local News

February 19, 2013

Landfill fight goes to higher level

LIBERTY, PINE TOWNSHIPS — Owners of Tri-County Landfill, Inc. are taking the decades-long fight to reopen and enlarge a landfill in Liberty and Pine townships to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

The landfill - which operated since the 1940s in the townships - was closed in 1990 by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which has also denied attempts at expanding the landfill since 1976.

However, local laws supersede DEP's laws in deciding whether a landfill can operate.

After Liberty and Pine imposed a 40-foot height restriction on landfills - under their zoning ordinances' definition of a structure - Tri-County appealed to Mercer County President Judge James Dobson, who sided on Jan. 15 with the townships on that issue.

Dobson sided with Tri-County on other matters, however.

For instance, the former landfill existed before zoning in Pine; however, since it was closed for more than 12 months, the township deemed it to be an abandoned, non-conforming use no longer grandfathered as an industry in a now-residential zone.

Tri-County contended that it never abandoned hope of getting a DEP permit to reopen its landfill. Dobson agreed; the Vogel family owners have spent $4 million to $5 million - and submitted mounds of paperwork - in their efforts since 1976. 

Liberty agreed that the company could expand the landfill in its township because it would be in an industrial zone; the trick was the contentious, conditional 40-foot trash mound height limit.

"We're very pleased with (Dobson's) decisions because he affirmed that the landfill is a valid non-conforming use in Pine Township and a valid conditional use in Liberty Township," said Clifford Levine, Pittsburgh attorney for Tri-County, on Friday.

However, the company wants the landfill to be about four times higher than 40 feet. Tri-County gave a notice of its intent to appeal Dobson's decisions to the Commonwealth on Feb. 4.

The height limits in the townships "constitutes a legal interpretation, and 40 feet would not allow for us to sustain a viable landfill," Levine said, essentially excluding landfills from operating.

"If you can build a building but it can only be the size of a postage stamp, then it's not a building. (The townships' ordinances) wouldn't be constitutional because the reality is you can't build a landfill ... in Pine and Liberty now."

The appeal notice was filed in Mercer County courts, which will transfer it to the Commonwealth Court. Levine suspected that the Commonwealth would ask Tri-County's counsel "to identify the specific challenges where (Dobson) erred," he said, within the next couple of weeks.

From there, briefings would be scheduled "and probably in a few months an oral argument, where judges would hear issues raised," he added. Normally three judges will decide a case, but there could be up to seven depending on its complexity, Levine noted.

The proceedings would likely be scheduled in Pittsburgh, but could defer to courts in Philadelphia or Harrisburg, he continued. "These decisions range from five to nine months."

Levine, who does "a lot of land use cases and a lot of appeals," he said, would not comment on what type of arguments he'll be making for Tri-County's new appeal.

However, "In a case like this, it's pretty significant and we're relying on Supreme Court (of Pennsylvania) precedent," he said. "We're really hopeful the commonwealth would follow the precedent and realize the landfill is not a structure. We're 90 percent on board with (Dobson's) ruling; it's just one interpretation that the landfill is a structure."

If Tri-County fails in its appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the next ste[ would be the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which would require permission to be heard.

Published Feb. 9, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

Text Only
Local News
  • live united fire merkel.jpg Local live United

    The Grove City Area United Way is kicking off a summer campaign that features locals who are examples of how to "Live United."

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • gina burger-file.jpg Police: 'Cool customer' arrested in girl's murder

    An Ohio man charged in the murder of Gina Marie Burger, 16 - whose body was found at Tri-County Industries waste transfer station in Pine Township June 25 - stuffed her body in a playpen bag and carried it past her mother before disposing of the remains in the trash, police said.

    July 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Public questions Rock band director's position

    Slippery Rock school board members on Monday heard from several people who were concerned about the marching band director's position, which has been opened up for anyone to apply.

    July 11, 2014

  • Budget includes tax hike for new teachers

    Property taxes in the Slippery Rock Area School District are going up by 3.62 mills for the 2014-15 school year to cover the cost of hiring four new teachers.

    July 11, 2014

  • Twp. running out of capacity

    Springfield Township is running out of wastewater capacity.

    July 11, 2014

  • cat with owner.jpg Mobile cat clinic curbs overpopulation

    For the sixth year in a row, Grove City Area Pet Rescue has teamed up with Animal Friends of Pittsburgh to offer a low-cost spay/neuter clinic for cats through a mobile unit set up in Plain Grove Township.

    July 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • rock fairy read bloom fair.jpg The Rock blooms under judges' eyes

    America in Bloom judges Katy Moss Warner and Barbara Vincentsen liked what they saw in the Slippery Rock area, where they spent three days evaluating a year's worth of work done by Slippery Rock in Bloom members and volunteers.

    July 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • Boomtown hears young voices

    Students from the Mercer Area School District were among the 20 participants at the June 17 Mercer Boomtown meeting held at the Mercer County Career Center.

    July 3, 2014

  • Rock trash talk touches on billing, BigBelly

    Slippery Rock council members are still working through a number of garbage-related issues, including a detailed revision of the solid waste ordinance and a proposal to bring solar-powered trash compactors to the borough.

    July 3, 2014

  • ali shawn miller prelim.jpg GC area child assault case heads to county court

    The Grove City-area man accused of grabbing a young boy in the bathroom of the Pine Township Walmart will have his case heard in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide