After a lengthy public hearing last week, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny a request from Shoosmith Bros. Inc. that would have allowed the company to bring out-of-state waste into the section of the landfill permitted in 1997.
“You had a deal in ’97, and absent of any material change in circumstance, there is no reason to refine or change the zoning case,” Supervisors Chairman Dan Gecker said at the Aug. 25 meeting.
The Shoosmith Bros. Inc. landfill, located just off Iron Bridge and Lewis Roads, was started in 1976 and permitted for 200 acres of the 600-acre site. In 1997, Shoosmith sought to add 200 acres to the landfill and made 24 proffers during that application and approval process.
Earlier this year, the landfill applied for changes to two of those proffers and one covenant to allow: The acceptance of out-of-state trash in the new section of the landfill; landfill and quarrying operations in the quarry at the same time; and the addition of more waste to an area of the landfill that has been capped.
At the Aug. 25 Board of Supervisors meeting, Planning and Special Projects Manager Robert Clay said Shoosmith had withdrawn the part of the application seeking the ability to have landfilling and quarrying operations in the quarry at the same time.
In its report on the case, the planning staff recommended approval of the request because “the proposed amendments should have no greater impact on the area than the approved uses as currently conditioned.” Clay said the Planning Commission, in a 4-1 vote, had recommended denial for several reasons, including concerns about more out-of-state trash, the public opposition and the concurrent operations in the quarry.
Brennan Keene, an attorney representing the landfill, said the company was bringing a simpler application before the supervisors.
“We’ve removed one of the critical issues that really troubled the Planning Commission,” Keene said.
Out-of-state waste is already accepted in the original section of the landfill, he said, and it has the capacity to accept out-of-state trash for at least another six years.
A lot of residential development has occurred in the vicinity of the landfill since it was originally permitted in the 1970s, he said.
“These two conditions that are before you have nothing to do with odor,” Keene said. “Shoosmith is keenly aware odor’s an issue.” After the Planning Commission expressed concerns about the odor, Shoosmith amended its odor management plan again, he said.
Nearly 20 residents spoke during the public hearing, and most expressed frustration with the landfill’s odor.
Marge Brickell, who lives near the landfill, said she recently had to submit three complaints about the odor in one week. Shoosmith’s plans to control the smell aren’t working, she said.
“It’s a worry to us, because it’s our property values,” she said. Until Shoosmith gets the odor under control, it shouldn’t be allowed to bring such a request before the board, she said.
Though the company’s request related to the quarry was withdrawn, resident Tom Watson said he still opposed the remaining requests.
“We’re worried about signs, but we’re not worried about garbage? I don’t understand it,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Edward Ring, a businessman in the Dale district, said: “It’s not the county’s job to ensure that Shoosmith makes money. I wish you’d do the same for me.”
Glen Besa, director of the Sierra Club’s Virginia Chapter, said localities don’t have the right to regulate out-of-state waste unless it’s through a proffer, so that condition couldn’t be easily replicated if it’s given up.
Dale Supervisor Jim Holland said he applauded the “passionate speakers” who’d taken to the podium. The Planning Commission rejected the case for a variety of reasons, he said, and the requested amendments would only exacerbate the problem. Holland moved to deny the request.
Bermuda Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle said it seemed that the problem was the odor; her statement drew calls of, “No,” from the audience. Jaeckle said she’d been taking notes, and though several concerns were raised, the biggest one was odor.
One constituent suggested to her that this case could be used to get a better odor management plan, she said. She didn’t see denying the case as creating that much of an incentive for Shoosmith to “make your life better,” she said.
When audience members continued to call out in response to Jaeckle’s comments, Gecker said he understood it was an emotional issue and “we’ve all been here a long time.”
“Please let the board members speak,” he said.
If the board doesn’t follow the conditions established in the 1997 case, “we’re breaking the trust of the citizens,” said Matoaca Supervisor Marleen Durfee. The board voted unanimously to deny the request.