PINE TOWNSHIP – Pine Township supervisors are considering an appeal of the Tri-County Industries Inc. landfill permit approval.
Two township residents spoke at Monday night’s supervisors’ meeting and nearly four dozen sent emails asking Pine leaders to oppose the approval made Dec. 28 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Todd Spears recalled that when he moved to the township about 30 years ago, there was talk of the landfill.
The TCI landfill in Pine and Liberty townships closed in 1990, and the latest permit application was the fourth time that Vogel Holding Inc., which owns the property, asked DEP to reopen the municipal waste landfill.
“Most everybody was against it,” Spears said during the virtual meeting.
He wondered why the community is still having to fight “trash mountain” – a nickname for the landfill used by the Citizens’ Environmental Association of the Slippery Rock Area, or CEASRA.
Spears encouraged the supervisors to appeal the permit. If the landfill moves forward and something goes wrong, the community will be in big trouble, he said.
Jane Cleary, an active member of CEASRA, a nonprofit that has been outspoken against the landfill for years, reminded supervisors that Jan. 28 is the deadline to file an appeal with the Environmental Hearing Board.
Supervisor Jeanine Thompson asked whether the township has grounds to file an appeal.
In the past, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has said that if the nature of the landfill changed, the permit would be thrown out, Cleary said.
The nature has been changed because the permit now mentions construction waste, she said.
Because Spears and Cleary reached their time limit during public comment, the landfill discussion resumed later in the meeting.
Richard Stachel, who was named chairman of the supervisors during the reorganization part of the meeting, said he wants to look into the issue further before deciding on an appeal.
Bill Pritchard, vice chair of the supervisors and president of CEASRA, said the township can formally oppose and appeal the permit, citing information like harms versus benefits, the nature of materials and economic impacts.
On Monday, he received emails from 44 township residents asking the supervisors to appeal DEP’s decision.
He also heard from state Rep. Tim Bonner, R-8th District, and Mercer County Commissioner Scott Boyd, who are concerned about the landfill.
Thompson asked about the cost of an appeal, adding that the township spent $350,000 on legal fees over the height restriction of the landfill.
Terms of the application call for the landfill to be 40 feet high, though Vogel Holding has indicated it would like that see that increased to 160 feet – a change that Pine and Liberty township would have to approve.
Since an appeal wouldn’t go through the courts, Pritchard thinks legal fees would cost less.
Cleary said she received word that Liberty Township supervisors voted in favor of having their attorney file an appeal. Liberty also met on Monday night.
Thompson asked if Pine could split the cost of legal fees with Liberty and ask the commissioners to join the appeal, and Cleary suggested contacting the lawyers for the nearby Grove City Premium Outlets, which has been opposed to the landfill.
Pritchard has someone reaching out to Grove City, since the borough owns the airport near the TCI property.
The supervisors expect to schedule a special meeting for late this week or early next week to vote on the appeal.
The landfill would be off state Route 208 southeast of the Route 208-Interstate 79 interchange. It would be within 2 miles of the airport and the outlet mall.