By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — Public comments on the proposed expansion of the Riverview landfill can be sent to the Wayne County Facility Inclusion Committee until July 2.
Comments may be submitted in writing to: Wayne County Facility Inclusion Committee, 3600 Commerce Ct., Wayne, MI, 48184 or via email at [email protected]. The committee will hold a meeting after the public comment period has closed.
The Riverview Land Preserve is at 20863 Grange Road but the landfill expansion site is along King Road. A proposed expansion would be a 45-acre extension eastward — still within the boundaries of the landfill — to extend the life of the landfill, according to a RLP summary release.
Trenton Mayor Steven Rzeppa posted the June 17 letter he sent to the committee on his Facebook page. He expressed his strong opposition to the RLP expansion.
“While I do not personally live in the neighborhood adjacent to the landfill, I have seen firsthand the strain it causes to surrounding residents,” he wrote. “With countless family members and friends whom I’ve known since childhood growing up and living in the immediate vicinity of the landfill and its entrance, I have quite literally seen it grow larger and larger over my entire lifetime.
“You’ve heard from hundreds of not thousands of residents already citing the negative and unknown health impacts to surrounding areas, the odor emanating from the site, the fear of further deterioration of surrounding roads, the negative impact on surrounding property values, the lack of long-term sustainability, the increased truck traffic including at major intersections near residential neighborhoods, and so much more.”
The Riverview City Council adopted a resolution to re-affirm the Riverview Land Preserve Cell 8 commitment to neighboring communities during a May 27 special city council meeting.
The city recently filed an application with Wayne County to extend the life of the land preserve which raised operational concerns from neighboring communities.
One of those communities was Trenton. At a May 27 meeting, the Trenton City Council passed a resolution 6-1 opposing any expansion of the Riverview landfill. Councilman Scott Cabauatan requested a roll call vote on the resolution since he was abstaining from this matter due to his day-to-day business activities.
Concerns mentioned in the resolution were the expected increased traffic from the existing landfill site, odors, and air quality and environmental conditions in the immediate area adjacent to the neighborhoods.
Riverview Mayor Andrew Swift read read the resolution addressing Trenton’s concerns regarding the Cell 8 expansion.
“It is appropriate that the City of Riverview respond to Trenton’s resolution to allay its expressed concerns and to express our good faith efforts to be a good neighbor,” he said.
According to a RLP summary release, the current attempt to expand the landfill is not the first one, as it has been rejected prior.
“The community should know that the landfill will not get any higher,” Riverview Assistant City Manager Jeff Dobek said. “Just as importantly, we will not increase our daily intake from the current 3,000 tons per day. We can only handle a set number of trucks per day and that number would not increase with this expansion.”
He said Riverview listened to the community and made important operational upgrades to ensure that the RLP is a good neighbor.
These upgrades include installing sophisticated odor controls, placing litter fencing to prevent blowing debris, improving daily and slope cover, purchasing new equipment to clean track-out onto roads, and heavily investing in additional landfill gas control infrastructure.
The RLP is a regional resource serving 16 Downriver communities. According to the summary release, the significance of that to Riverview residents is that revenue generated from the landfill is a vital part of keeping the city safe and property taxes lower.
The RLP provides 25 percent of Riverview’s operating budget.
In his letter, Rzeppa addressed the financials relating to the expansion.
“I certainly empathize with Riverview over the financial concerns of they are not granted the expansion as we face a quite similar situation with the closure of the DTE plant in Trenton,” he said. “However, it is incumbent upon us as regional leaders to find solutions to alleviate this burden and also improve the quality of life for our generation and those that follow.”
The RLP generates millions of dollars in fees to support Wayne County household recycling and enrichment programs such as Community Shred Day each fall.
“Protecting our environment while supporting residents’ disposal needs is a priority,” the release said. “RLP also produces affordable renewable energy for Downriver. RLP’s landfill gas-to-energy system collects enough gas to provide electricity to 3,700 homes every year and is sold to DTE Energy.”
More than 30 people are employed by the RLP.
A copy of the RLP expansion application packet is available for public review at the Riverview Public Library, 14300 Sibley Road, and on the Wayne County website.
Additional details on when the meeting will take place will be forthcoming.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)