By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW — The Wayne County Solid Wast Planning Division and Facility Inclusion Committee voted to hold off on approving the expansion of the Riverview Land Preserve landfill following a lengthy discussion and consideration of public input.
At a more than three-hour meeting Aug. 2, committee members heard a presentation from city officials as well as public concerns and comments from Downriver elected officials.
Wayne County Environmental Services Division Director Patrick Cullen listed multiple items in a memo that Riverview would have to address before the county would consider the plan again.
The city will now have time to work on a revised plan application for the expansion. If submitted, an additional notification to all potential affected parties along with a 30-day comment period is required as part of the process.
Another meeting will be held by the committee for approval or denial two weeks after the public comment period ends.
Staff of the Wayne County Department of Public Services’ Environmental Services Division completed a review of the application which would expand the landfill eastward for approximately 45 acres of city-owned golf course property.
This would result in 16.5 million cubic yards of additional solid waste disposal airspace. Riverview residents currently do not pay to have their trash picked up.
“ESD staff finds that the Riverview Land Preserve Cell 8 expansion is not consistent with the WCSWMP as proposed and recommends that the FIC requests the applicant submit a revised proposal that adequately addresses the concerns raised by Wayne County and the potentially affected parties,” the memo said.
Those concerns include:
• Recommendations and comments contained in the Sept. 9, 2017, memo from the Land Resource Management Division.
• Additional information that addresses quality of life and nuisance concerns from neighboring residents including odor, air quality (including dust and blowing debris), King Road maintenance and cleanliness, and noise.
• Isolation distance of the proposed expansion to the Frank and Poet Drain; measures to protect water quality.
• Additional information regarding facility and regional capacity as stated in both the LRMD memo and the committee comments, including analysis of extending lifetime of existing airspace by limiting waste acceptance.
• A cost-benefit analysis of the proposed expansion, including: cost for expansion vs. revenue received, proposed financing for expansion, and financial impacts to Riverview residents of operating the landfill to current capacity vs. proposed expansion.
• A written commitment to provide curbside recycling services to Riverview residents prior to the construction of the proposed expansion.
In addition to the 340 people who attended the meeting via Zoom, the FIC received 477 written comments from the public.
The city submitted a petition with 418 signatures and 208 postcards in support of the proposal. Also, a copy of an online petition with 1,141 electronic signatures in opposition to the proposal was submitted by a Trenton resident.
The RLP is at 20863 Grange Road but the landfill expansion site is along King Road.
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 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, generating $3.5 million annually.
“Without the RLP, the city would need to raise property taxes by 11 mills to replace that revenue — or slash the size of the fire and police forces keeping the city safe,” the release said. “Those funds are used for fire and police protection, along with park and recreation services—all of which are 100 percent paid for with property taxes in other communities. These lower property taxes, in turn, support higher property values. Also, Riverview residents receive free trash pickup.”
More than 30 people are employed by the RLP.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])