Odor, noise, health risks cited
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – Trenton, Riverview and Brownstown Township residents packed a meeting of the Wayne County Solid Waste Management Facility Inclusion Committee Sept. 14 at Arnaldo’s Banquet Center, to oppose Riverview’s proposed landfill expansion.
The city of Riverview, which relies heavily on the landfill revenue to fund the city’s budget, hopes to see expansion of the landfill to extend its life an additional 12 years beyond the 10 years remaining.
The commission ended the more than two-hour meeting by asking the city to resubmit its expansion proposal with a detailed analysis of the waste issue, including a cost-benefit analysis noting the city’s revenue as well as the inherent cost to the surrounding communities.
The committee noted that the best interest of residents must be weighed against the revenue, and asked Riverview officials to report how much city tax rates might increase to maintain the current level of city services if the landfill were no longer providing its present approximate revenue of $3 million a year to the city.
The committee also asked for a report of the long-term cost to maintain the landfill once it closes.
“We want them to go back and submit a revised plan with the issues we think they should address, including the quality of life and the issues expressed at the public hearing today and by emails and letters,” said Committee Chairman William Matakas, who also is the mayor of Allen Park.
Committee member Robert Nix said the committee gave the city of Riverview recommendations, and it can choose whether or not to put them into their proposal.
“We are sending it back for an amended plan to address those,” Nix said. “They will choose to address what they want, and we will evaluate the submission in terms of addressing the issues raised.”
Committee member Helen Foster said the quality of life issue is a high priority with everyone on the committee.
Patrick Cullen, Wayne County director of the Land Resource Management Division, said it is important for the city of Riverview to have clarity on what the committee wants it to address in the re-submission.
Early in the meeting, when Riverview Mayor Andrew Swift said he thought the landfill expansion was a solid plan and residents would feel more comfortable with the expansion after they heard the presentation in support of the proposed expansion, his remarks were met with shouted derision, forcing Matakas to use his gavel and call for order, which he repeated during the emotionally charged meeting.
Riverview City Manager Douglas Drysdale told attendees that the landfill benefits neighboring communities financially by providing the most affordable waste disposal solutions for residential, business and construction needs.
“We have a lot of development going on in this area, and the developers have a local place to take construction material and demolition material that even extends down to our residents when they do home improvements,” Drysdale said. “Cities are also able to save on costs related to hauling and disposal by having something in the local area rather than taking it 25 miles to another landfill.”
Engineering Project Manager Jennifer Bowyer said the proposed expansion east of the existing landfill would cover 45 acres of the city-owned Riverview Highlands Golf Course. She said it will provide 12 million cubic yards of solid waste disposal.
Bowyer said the city would relocate the landfill entrance from King Road to Allen Road if the expansion were approved. She said the city also will initiate curbside recycling in 2018 to further extend the life of the landfill, and will work toward the maximum compaction of the solid waste it receives.
Bowyer said the landfill has a good relationship and record with local regulators. She said no water that comes in contact with trash leaves the site, and the natural gas wells are designed to not only generate energy but to help alleviate odor.
She said the planned relocation of the Frank and Poet Drain and the utilization of the redesigned golf course as a flood plan will also alleviate local flooding.
Cullen expressed concern that Riverview has not committed to curbside recycling with its own residents, and while the landfill is in compliance with regulations, it remains a source of nuisance mitigation.
Cullen said the landfill is unique in that it is embedded in a residential area, an unusual situation, and he is concerned with its proximity, within 1,000 feet, of Riverview’s assisted living community Atria King Haven.
Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack said that the Trenton City Council passed a resolution opposed to the landfill expansion, citing the health and welfare of residents, the high volume of truck traffic generated by the landfill that is destroying King Road, the continuous smell of rotting garbage, and the noise of heavy equipment in the early morning hours and all day long at the landfill.
Stack said the sight of garbage close up and in the distance is undesirable, and the damage to roads caused by the trash haulers damages residents’ vehicles.
Dozens of residents from Trenton, Riverview and Brownstown Township spoke of noxious odors forcing them to stay indoors with their windows closed.
They said birds attracted to the landfill leave droppings all over their yards and decks.
Some residents said the truck vibrations have damaged their home foundations, and others cite specific health risks, including asthma, allergies and some even attribute cancers to the environment to which they are exposed.
One resident called for the city of Riverview to “do what is right,” reiterating that the majority of residents are strongly opposed to the expansion, and asking city officials to listen to what they are saying and the reasons behind their opposition.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)