Five municipalities have made a stand against the reopening of Tri-County Industries’ landfill in Liberty and Pine townships.
The Wolf Creek-Slippery Rock Creek Council of Governments held a special meeting in the Grove City Borough Building on April 22; a majority voted to send a letter to the Department of Environmental Protection about its disapproval of the landfill.
Tri-County is applying to the DEP to reopen the landfill, which has been out of operation for decades. Numerous attempts by Tri-County to get a DEP landfill permit have failed in the past.
Voting against the landfill were COG members Chuck Larish, for Liberty; George Elliott, for Pine; Judy Hassler, for Springfield Township; Mayor Randy Riddle, for Grove City; and Bob Crothers, for Wolf Creek.
At the COG’s quarterly meeting in March, chair Andrea Folkertsma asked members to go to their municipal boards to talk over their positions on Tri-County’s landfill before holding the special meeting in April, which lasted four minutes.
“Each borough and township had made a stand and a statement (individually), but this vote showed we were united in this,” Folkertsma said.
Mayor Jere Donovan, Harrisville, abstained from voting since he couldn’t get borough council in his town together prior to the COG meeting, she added.
However, “We had more than enough (in the COG) to make this vote,” Folkertsma said.
The COG voted after Bill Pritchard, of the Citizens Environmental Association of the Slippery Rock Area, gave a presentation at the COG’s March meeting.
CEASRA has led fights against Tri-County reopening its landfill for years. Pritchard asked the COG to make its collective voice public concerning Tri-County’s landfill application to the DEP.
He told members that the landfill and the COG’s comprehensive plan didn’t go hand in hand “for attractive, healthy, safe, living, working and shopping environments,” he said.
“We didn’t feel it preserved rural spaces, clean air, clean water, quiet levels, wooded areas,” Pritchard added, nor did it provide substantial economic opportunities that went well with businesses already operating near the landfill.
Negative impact on neighboring Grove City Airport, future housing and the local watersheds were additional items brought up to the COG by Pritchard, who has been a CEASRA member for four years.
Since voting, the COG will send a letter to the DEP stating that “we do not want, as they say it, ‘Trash Mountain’ here,” Folkertsma said.
CEASRA coined the phrase during one of Tri-County’s application processes, which has stuck. It was in response to the shape the landfill would take if approved by the DEP to reopen.
The landfill would primarily be located in Liberty.
Larish and Bob Pebbles are the newest Liberty supervisors this year, and have openly voiced their opposition to the landfill.
Ron Faull is chair of the trio, and a long-time township leader, who hasn’t spoken out against the landfill as the newcomers have. Liberty’s traditional board remained neutral on the subject over the years.
Before taking office, Larish and Pebbles approached Springfield supervisors at the end of last year about Tri-County’s plans to dispose of leachate - treated water that goes through a landfill - into an unnamed tributary to Black Run that leads to Wolf Creek then Slippery Rock Creek.
The daily flow rate of the tributary is a fourth of the flow that would be produced by the amount of leachate disposed in a day by Tri-County. Larish and Pebbles believed it could cause flooding in the area, including Springfield.
As for the landfill itself, “My own personal feeling is the size and scope of the project is in the wrong area,” Larish noted.
“Its location is relative to other things,” he said, like residencies and the airport, Prime Outlets at Grove City and Grove City Country Club. He and Pebbles each have homes near the landfill.
“Something that big is going to be a problem,” Larish said.
The landfill would secondarily operate in Pine.
Elliott, who is chair of the Pine supervisors, said his entire board has opposed the landfill, including members George Hagstrom and Scott Wise. Like Liberty, Pine remained neutral on the subject before the current board.
As a resident who lives close to Tri-County, Elliott has been involved with local citizens in “questioning Tri-County’s plan” for the landfill since the 1980s, he said.
Elliott was a member of CEASRA for the past several years, but will not renew his membership since his election to supervisor this year; to keep from a conflict of interest.
When Tri-County took steps to reopen the landfill in the 1980s, Elliott did not have a problem with it, except for its proposed mountainous size, which was larger than the current plan, he said.
With booming development in the area since - including housing developments and the outlet mall, which has brought in restaurants, hotels and more business - there are more concerns about the landfill in Elliott’s mind than its heap.
“In the 1950s, there were a half-dozen farms” when the old landfill operated, he said.
“The area has changed. The landfill is right in the center of a residential rural development rather than agricultural.”
The landfill’s portion in Pine has also been in a residentially zoned area since the 1980s, Elliott added.
As a military then commercial pilot for 44 years, he also voiced his concern about Grove City Airport a couple of miles from Tri-County; that accidents could occur from airplanes colliding with landfill-hungry birds.
Grove City council - of which Folkertsma is a member - also believes the landfill would be “detrimental to the airport,” she said. The heavy volumes of garbage trucks down Route 208 is another concern to members.
“It’s a multitude of things like that which makes the landfill not conducive to making a good area,” Folkertsma said.
Larish believes the COG’s collective voice against Tri-County is important; however, he was not certain how it will impact the DEP in deciding on Tri-County’s landfill permit application this time around.
The COG’s decision is just one more voice among “thousands of voices already opposing this landfill,” Pritchard said. “All these voices say this is not the place to locate this landfill, which is basically an industrial site.
“Will this particular action help? Yes. Will it take additional action? Yes. It will take action on many fronts. It’s just one more piece in stopping the development.”
Folkertsma believes the COG’s vote is a testimony of “a community at large that is against (the landfill), not just one community,” she said.
“It’s all of us feeling the effects and we don’t want it.”
Ed Vogel Jr., owner of Tri-County, could not be reached for comment.