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butler county landfill

The Butler County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, April 24, voted against expanding the landfill, citing issues with the necessary need of the facility and environmental impact. Facility officials have decided not to pursue legal action against the decision and will likely reapply within the next two to three years, according to Kelly Danielson, district manager for Waste Connections.

Representatives of the Butler County Landfill and Butler County Board of Supervisors are in the process of attempting to formulate a new agreement relating to maintaining a 5-mile stretch of County Road R from U.S. Highway 92 to the NE-12B Spur.

During Monday’s Butler County Board of Supervisors meeting, the governing body discussed – but took no action – relating to the new agreement in the works. District 6 Supervisor Gregory Janak said that the proposed action would result in the landfill taking over some of the road maintenance responsibilities itself, or contracting the job out.

Currently, county and landfill attorneys – along with the county’s insurance provider – are working to hash out details relating to liability should there be an accident along the stretch during the maintenance operation. No agreement details at this point have been finalized.

“The agreement, the way I understand it, is not to do the whole maintenance on that (stretch of road), it would be a partnership with them,” Janak said. “The reason for this agreement that the landfill is asking for is because they feel that sometimes when the weather gets pretty bad that the county can’t keep up with the maintenance for all the daily traffic that they get in.

“So this would allow for them to get a private contractor or pay someone to do some maintenance to help with the overall flow of traffic and keep the road safe … (Because) that is not our sole road out there, we are not there to just serve the needs of one business. We need to cover the whole county and serve all the people and businesses in the county.”

This agreement – just for road maintenance – differs from the host agreement previously signed, and then nulled and voided, following the board of supervisors’ decision to once again deny the landfill’s application for a 160-acre expansion. The original host agreement was made April 22, the board denied the application on April 24 and the agreement fell through the following day.

The governing body cited issues with the overall necessity of the facility as well as some issues relating to health, safety and overall welfare of county residents. The board previously denied an expansion proposal in 2015 on the same grounds.

The agreed upon host agreement leading up the expansion denial guaranteed that the county would receive 75 cents per ton of waste, for up to 500,000-700,000 tons of waste annually, which equates to approximately $17-$18 million over a 25-year period.

In addition, the agreement stated that the landfill would cover expenses relating to paving a 5-mile stretch of County Road R from U.S. Highway 92 to the NE-12B Spur.

“Now we are kind of just back to square one and we are requesting to have a third-party person come and grade the road, and we were told that we couldn’t do that without going through the proper channels,” Danielson said. “And I think they (the board) is still in the process of determining how all of that would work.”

Danielson noted how the discussed stretch of road has problems with potholes and standing water after heavy rains, adding that the road has gotten to be in “pretty rough shape.”

While having an accessible road for people bringing in loads of waste to the facility is important, perhaps the bigger things on the mind of county residents and landfill officials are what will happen to the facility now that expansion has again been denied.

Currently, Danielson said that it's estimated that the facility has anywhere from five to seven years of life remaining. With the expansion denial, the remaining space is now coming at a premium expense to its users, resulting in its per-ton dump rates hiking by $30 for non-contracted residential, commercial, construction and demolition waste starting May 1.

Danielson said that the landfill isn’t planning to appeal the decision to the state court system this go-round, adding that it’s likely the facility will reapply for an expansion in the next two to three years.

In the meantime, plans are in the works to divert waste from surrounding areas to a recently purchased Waste Connections landfill near Glenwood, Iowa, where Danielson now also serves as a district manager while splitting time in Butler County.

The Butler County facility’s biggest loads come from commercial transfer stations out of Omaha, but other waste comes in from places like Central City, Ord, O’Neill, Schuyler and Columbus.

Waste diversion could pay dividends in terms of providing the county facility with a longer life if expansion is never granted.

“We don’t know exactly what that is at this point, we aren’t far enough along to put a number on that,” Danielson said when asked to specify how many years could be added to the facility’s life by diverting other area’s waste to the Glenwood-area site. “But we do anticipate that it would give us a little more time.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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