Brian Jopek/Lakeland Times
(At top) Scott Maciosek, left, chairman of the town of Cloverland as well as the Landfill Venture Group’s executive committee, addresses the Vilas County board’s forestry committee. Also shown is Dale Mayo, the county’s parks and recreation administrator and Jay Verhulst, a Vilas County supervisor and member of the forestry committee. (Above) A conceptual drawing of the potential landfill expansion.
2/10/2016 7:25:00 AM Landfill Venture Group looks to expand County G landfill Masciosek: 'We're at the crossroads'
The most recent meeting of the Vilas County forestry committee Friday yielded no recommendation either way regarding a request for expansion from the Landfill Venture Group's (LVG) executive committee.
However, after the meeting, the three members of the LVG executive committee - Cloverland town chairman Scott Maciosek, Arbor Vitae Town Chairman Frank Bauers, and Gary Schmidt, a Plum Lake town supervisor, were encouraged by what they had heard.
The situation is the LVG's County G landfill near Cloverland is expected to last another 10 to 15 years.
A newly constructed cell will be ready to accept trash by the end of this month and, before the landfill is closed for good, construction of another cell will more than likely take place.
In the meantime, the LVG's executive committee would like Vilas County to consider leasing 71 acres of county forest immediately to the west of the facility to the LVG for landfill expansion.
The landfill's 90-acre site is county land leased to the consortium which is made up of 13 towns and the city of Eagle River.
Land O' Lakes is the only Vilas County town that doesn't participate in the LVG.
The amount the LVG pays the county each year to lease the property is very minimal.
The landfill has expanded twice since it began operation in the late 1980s and there was one other time when the county board allowed county land to be used for one of those expansions.
Late last year, a fire in the landfill's main building resulted in substantial damage.
'I don't know if we have the money'
Maciosek began the discussion by noting that the LVG has three options once the landfill reaches its anticipated life expectancy of 10 to 15 more years.
"We have the option of either closing the doors, expanding it by asking for more property, or turning it into a transfer station," he said. "After looking at the costs and everything, we looked at expanding it."
Maciosek explained if a decision was made by the county board to allow the expansion, there would 14 or 15 acres of the 71 the LVG wouldn't be able to use for the landfill.
"The law requires us to stay 100 feet from the boundary of property we can't touch," he said. "Actually, we say 300 feet because we use 200 feet for road access, leach lines, leach tanks and drainage on the property."
Basically, Maciosek said, that leaves about 58 acres for landfill expansion.
"If we did a transfer station, it would cost an additional $14.50," Maciosek said. "That's just for the transfer station. Now, when we looked at the cost to make it a transfer station and hauling out the garbage, it runs anywhere from $85.81 to $121.09 a ton which we're gonna have to pay out."
The landfill's gate rate is currently $62.
Committee member Ken Anderson said the LVG has done "a fantastic job" since the landfill opened in the late 1980s.
"There have been bumps in the way and you've overcome them," he said.
Anderson said he was in favor of doing it but there would probably be a requirement for the county to add the same amount of acreage in county forest land.
"I don't know if we have the money to do it [and] find a willing seller," he said. "I don't know what the towns own as far as acreage within the county forest boundaries they could dedicate to the county or turn over to the county."
Anderson said he was glad to see the LVG was discussing these issues now and preparing for the future.
"Like you said, 10 to 15 years from when you start until you actually put a load of garbage in there, the licensing process is so complicated, as you well know," he said. "My other question would be is any of the current site eligible for inclusion back into the county after it's abandoned?"
Maciosek said once the LVG is done with the landfill, the acreage will revert to the county automatically.
Anderson asked Jill Nemec, a DNR liaison to the county, if the land the current landfill is located on would be eligible to be included in the county forest.
"I don't know," she said. "Offhand, I would say no but that would take some research on my part."
Mark Busha, the facility manager at the landfill, said it would be several years after the landfill closed before that could happen.
"I don't think we'd have anything that's ready yet because we still need to monitor everything out there for a number of years," he said.
"It would have to be capable of being productive forest land again to enroll it in regular county forest law," Nemec said. "That's unless it's going to be special use or something."
Land withdrawal question
John Gagnon, Vilas County's forestry director, said the landfill is technically not considered appropriate use of forest land, according to state law.
"That land would have to be withdrawn from the county forest," he said. "The state, when they look at a withdrawal, they look at how does it benefit the public and what are you going to do to compensate for that loss of county forest land."
"So, what does the state think we should put landfills on?" forestry committee chairman Steve Doyen asked. "It's kind of like the old gravel pit thing ... you know, it kind of upsets me a little bit. There should be exceptions for this."
It was established at the meeting that to this point there hasn't been an engineering study of the 71 acres to show the technical aspects, although Busha said all the infrastructure is essentially there.
Verhulst said an engineering report, complete with soil samples, was completed before a previous expansion was done.
As far as the soil is concerned, there really wouldn't be much difference, Busha told Verhulst.
"To be real honest, this is all pretty preliminary," he said. "If there's not a chance for us to get any property, it doesn't pay for us to go a whole lot further. Know what I mean? We know the process already as far as siting a landfill so we know we have to do that [engineering report] as well."
Verhulst said he is looking for some kind of professional assessment "as to the fact that this expansion is suitable for the use that you are intending."
"Hearing that the county is already willing to be under the scrutiny of the state, saying it's not a suitable use for county forest land and what kind of offsets are going to be involved in withdrawing this and putting other land into the county forest to make up for what's gone, there's a lot of work that needs to be done here," he said.
"Right," Busha said. "That's exactly why we started so soon."
"Actually, we didn't go that far because if you guys are not in favor of it, why should we spend thousands and thousands of dollars on information that's not going to be used?" Maciosek asked.
Verhulst said he was glad to see this process was being followed to this point but Maciosek continued.
"Right now, we're at the crossroads," he said. "We had the fire at the landfill, the one section of the building is completely lost. The other section of the building, the roof needs to be replaced, it needs to be reinsulated and all the electrical rerun. So, we're looking at building new buildings. If we can't expand, that forces us to go one way. If we can expand, then we were looking at moving the operation down to where that property is and make it more utilized for the residents."
Anderson, continuing to be the most vocal of the forestry committee members supporting the expansion, said "this is a fantastic service to our citizens."
"When we first started talking about a countywide landfill, it took awhile to convince local units of government to come together because they figured 'Well, we can do it cheaper ourselves,' and then they found out they couldn't," he said.
There was another five to 10 minutes of discussion and at one point, Vilas County Chairman Ron DeBruyne, a spectator at the meeting, asked how many years would be added to the landfill with this expansion.
"50 to 70," Masciosek told him.
"Oh my God," DeBruyne said.
"That's what we're looking at," Masciosek said. "Fifty to 70 years the landfill would be secured."
"It's kind of a no-brainer," DeBruyne said.
Anderson made a motion to have the LVG proceed.
After learning that the meeting was strictly informational, he said the motion should be voted down.
"What I think we're telling you, Scott, is that we're going to, on our part - the county's part - we're going to proceed through other avenues with Jill and John to look at where we could acquire property to put into the county forest because the DNR's going to require that," Anderson said. "I wouldn't have the Landfill Venture Group spend any money on engineering at this point. We've got to get this coordinated a little bit."
Doyen echoed Anderson's remarks.
"We've got some homework to do," he said.
Masciosek said he spoke to the DNR about opening a landfill somewhere else.
Doyen asked what the agency's response was.
"The chances of that getting passed are between slim and none," Masciosek said.
The LVG has a meeting scheduled for today at the Arbor Vitae town hall and the possible expansion is expected to be a topic of discussion.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Friday, March 10, 2017
Article comment by:
my name is Gary and I own Thomas Clay Corp it sounds like there is a lot to think about here, don't make the same mistakes that Antigo made, ones you close it: its all over you will never reopen again. (costs and permits will stop that) Landfills like this are important I have sold high grade clay for capping sites for a long time # 2 cells for the city of Antigo and #2 for Marathon county landfills so I have seen all of this before. be smart you have a clay source about 2 hours away that you own in UP and it works good for the bottom of your cells but you don't have capping clay. never buy poor clay for your cap I can help with that if you want, you should never buy clay and build a cell at the same time, if a contractor thinks he has the whole project he will add costs. this adds up on your bottom line, stockpile in the off years (finding deals were you can) so the bit isn't so bad on your bottom line. I wish you all good luck.
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