Source: Sherman Publications

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Citizens make stink over landfill approval

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

May 04, 2011

The entrance to Eagle Valley. The landfill itself rises in the background. Photo by Gabriel Ouzounian
At the Orion Township Board of Trustees meeting on April 18, an expansion of the Eagle Valley Landfill was approved, and some area residents are making a stink about the decision.

"The people that voted on it were not given proper information, and I believe most people that voted for it campaigned on a 'no landfill expansion' campaign,'" said Orion resident Sue Turpen. "There was also no input, no public hearing, and no notice to any residents that would be affected by the expansion.

"What it means for us is depreciation of home values and commercial property values, more heavy truck traffic and road wear and tear, an even more unsightly view from our houses, more leakage from the landfill into the ground, and an additional 20 years of these increases."

Turpen, a member of the Hi Hill Village Association, which manages greater issues for the Hi Hill Subdivision near Silverbell and M-24, said the item on the meeting's agenda which represented the motion's approval was deceptive. It was listed as "Host Fee Agreement - Waste Management Eagle Valley," something which Hi Hill Village Association President Don Ritenburgh said indicated they would be discussing fees, not the expansion of land.

"In Orion, we have lots of landfills and a lot of public concern about these landfills, but they're seems to be little to no public input on this agreement," said Ritenburgh. "We were told the board would need to pass this within five minutes of learning of it of they may be sued by Waste Management."

The Hi Hill Subdivision has a long history of controversy with the development and maintenance of the Eagle Valley Landfill. Former president Joe Geraci said the landfill had historically been a problem for the township. One specific topic of dispute is the ground water pollution, which according to Ritenburgh runs south - into the the Hi Hill Subdivision.

"People were refinancing their homes so they could connect to the township water and sewer because the groundwater wasn't safe," said Ritenburgh, who also mentioned another nearby, albeit smaller subdivision received aid in connecting to township water and sewer for that very reason. "The township covered the water, but we had to pay for them to repair the damage to the roads caused by the work done.

"Just because we're bigger, it seems like the township cannot afford to subsidize as much for us, but we still had the ground water pollution because of the landfills surrounding us."

The township is not ignorant of this allegedly misleading issue. Days after the motion passed on April 18, Township Attorney Dan Kelly and Supervisor Matthew Gibb notified Waste Management that one of the board members was reconsidering their support. Treasurer Alice Young was concerned not enough information was provided, and said there should have been a public hearing.

However, Gibb disagreed slightly and added "it's not a lack of information from the board level, but the bulk of the technical work was done when Ms. Young was unable to be here for personal reason."

As of the Monday's meeting, another special meeting has been scheduled for today, May 4, to further discuss and hear the concerns from the public concerning the landfill. Township Clerk Penny Shults said representatives from Waste Management and Eagle Valley have taken the matter seriously, and wish to hear the public's concerns before proceeding with the expansion.

Shults added around 100 people were in attendance at the meeting.