By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
GROVE CITY —
The state Department of Environmental Protection is hosting a public hearing and meeting Jan. 28 for people to learn more about the landfill Tri-County Industries is proposing to reopen.
"The meeting is a less formal question-and-answer where Tri-County landfill representatives will discuss their proposal and DEP staff will discuss the permitting process," Kevin Sunday, DEP spokesman, said by email.
The meeting is set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Grove City High School, 511 Highland Ave., and will be followed by the hearing from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., according to a legal notice DEP published in Saturday's Allied News.
The meeting and hearing are in response to Tri-County's four permit applications to reopen a municipal waste landfill that was once operated in Liberty and Pine townships, also known as the Tri-County Landfill.
Tri-County's proposal involves: an expansion of the landfill; an air quality permit to use flares to control emissions; a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit that sets limits on the water discharged from the landfill; and a watershed encroachment permit for the 1.5 acres of wetlands that will be impacted by the expansion, Sunday said.
"This meeting will inform the public about how the expansion and associated activities will take place in accordance with our regulations so that the environment and public health and safety are protected," he said.
During the meeting portion, Tri-County Landfill and DEP officials will answer questions about the project, application review process and regulations.
During the hearing, citizens will be able to present oral testimony regarding the proposed landfill.
Testimony will be recorded by a court reporter and transcribed in writing.
DEP will respond in writing to all relevant testimony and the agency requests that those planning to testify submit written notice of their intent, which Sunday said is standard procedure for public hearings.
"This helps us structure an orderly meeting, make accommodations for time and space and to plan accordingly," he said.
The notice should include the person's name, address, telephone number and a brief description of their testimony, and those individuals will be given priority on the agenda.
If there is enough time, anyone who doesn't sign up in advance to speak will have a chance to testify.
All speakers are limited to a maximum of five minutes.
Groups or organizations are encouraged to appoint a spokesperson to testify. Written testimony will be accepted from those who don't get a chance to speak.
People who don't attend the hearing can submit written testimony to DEP through Feb. 8.
Advance notice from those wanting to testify and written testimony should be sent to: Gary Clark, Community Relations Specialist, Department of Environmental Protection, Northwest Regional Office, 230 Chestnut St., Meadville, PA 16335.
Those with disabilities who need assistance can contact Clark or the Pennsylvania AT&T relay service at 1-800-654-5984.
The next step after the hearing is for DEP to review all testimony. The agency will then release a comment and response document to the public, Sunday said.
"The timeline on approving these four permit applications depends on their thoroughness and completeness," he said.
If any issues come out of the hearing that affect certain permitting criteria, the applications may need to be amended.
The ongoing landfill issue has been pending with the DEP for years, and after they put the proposal before the townships, Pine's zoning officer in 2010 wouldn't issue Tri-County a permit to reopen, according to Allied News files.
The officer said the landfill was abandoned in 1990 and is now in a residentially-zoned area, much of it in Pine and some in Liberty. It would be primarily located to Liberty, allowing the landfill to reopen under a conditional use.
Tri-County appealed the decisions made by the zoning officer and Liberty's conditional use, which led to months of hearings over the last two years.
Tri-County's current appeal before Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson was in response to a condition set by two Liberty Township supervisors that the landfill be no taller than 40 feet high; Tri-County is proposing a 150-foot landfill.
Both Pine and Liberty townships have ordinances that limit structures to 40 feet, but a landfill is not considered a structure, Tri-County's attorney said.
Pine's zoning board agreed with Liberty's zoning board that the landfill was abandoned and not grandfathered in under current zoning.
Dobson's office said the judge has yet to rule on Tri-County's latest appeal and no hearings were scheduled as of Monday morning.
Jane Cleary, a representative with the Citizens Environmental Association of the Slippery Rock Area, or CEASRA, which has been opposing the landfill, and Ron Faull, chairman of Liberty Township supervisors, didn't return messages.
For more information, call DEP at 814-332-6340.
Published Jan. 2, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.