As the Scott County Fiscal Court grapples with solid waste management, leaders are looking for avenues to improve the current situation and better control future issues.
Magistrates and County Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington heard how a facility siting ordinance could help enforce compliance of solid waste facilities, such as landfill expansions or locations and transfer stations. Debra DeLong, environmental scientist with the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, provided a fact sheet to the fiscal court that defines a solid waste facility siting ordinance as a “tool that counties can use to determine the appropriate location of sites and facilities within county borders, maintain an input on operations of a facility, set expectations for operating the facility, explain administrative tasks, and set enforcement actions for the ordinance.” Those administrative tasks could include possible fees.
“There is a misconception that a siting ordinance means we do want it in our county or we don’t want it in the county. That’s not what this ordinance is for,” she said. “When we talk about federal, the EPA, it has general standards for sitings. They talk about controls in detecting air quality, water quality, very broad things. State regulations and statutes again looks at the environment and human health.
“Facility siting ordinance is a tool the local government can use to maintain input on operations of the facility. You can set expectations for operation of the facility and enforcement actions. Those are things that you can do on the local level that federal and state can’t do. It is up to you to take care of your local government and your community and that is where this ordinance comes in. It can be more specific than the state or feds. You can’t conflict, but be more specific. That is why you want to do this because you can tailor it to Scott County’s needs.”
Without such an ordinance, there is no defined criteria on how a solid waste facility can operate, DeLong said.
“If you don’t have a facility siting ordinance your gates are open. The difference between this and planning and zoning is that with a facility siting ordinance you can ask for the application and set the criteria. Planning and zoning just tells you where it can or can’t be,” she said. “This facility siting ordinance give you a say-so and not just that (the facility) can come or not, but under what criteria. And I think that is what your residents would like.”
Covington asked if a siting ordinance could include expansion of a current facility such as a landfill.
“Yes. There is a thing called local determination to allow a county to have a say-so in expansion. They have to submit their intent so you know what they are intending to do, and you can decide if it is consistent with your plan or not consistent with your plan,” DeLong said. “People get hooked up on that capacity number, but local determination is much more than that. It is about operation and things you want.”
“Compliance?” Covington asked. “Can it included compliance?”
“Yes. Compliance is part of that,” DeLong said.
Magistrate Rick Hostetler asked if the court were to approve a facility siting ordinance how it would affect existing operators or those that have applied and received a permit to operate a facility, such as a transfer station.
“This ordinance would be written for new, proposed or expansion,” DeLong said. “If the owner of the transfer station has a permit and even though he hasn’t started, you can’t make it retroactive.
“But once you put the criteria in the ordinance, it gives your plan some teeth.”
She did say the county could include in the ordinance such things for existing facilities as communication and if they aren’t in compliance the county is looped in on that. She would recommend requiring an annual report from operators.
Covington would like a draft of an ordinance tailored for Scott County in time for next week’s meeting, he said.
“It gives more local control over the location of solid waste management facilities in Scott County and establishes criteria for approval through an ordinance,” he said. “The question we are looking into is how this ordinance can be a part of any existing facility. We are just trying to protect our county where we don’t have anything now.
“I think it is wise of us to move forward. We want to do it right, we want do it quick, but we don’t want to hurry.”
Covington provided magistrates examples of ordinances from Garrard and Perry counties, and DeLong said they are tailored to their specific needs. For example, Lincoln County has a landfill, and Garrard’s ordinance is very detailed on landfills, but general on transfer stations. They wrote it because they don’t want to have a landfill compete with Lincoln, but general on transfer stations because they have to have places to transport their trash.
She said an effective solid waste facility siting ordinance has a well-defined purpose, scope, requirements, procedures and standards, administration and enforcement. A well-written ordinance is needed in Scott County to give the fiscal court decision-making ability and authority over what types of facilities can locate in the county and how they operate.
“Part of our solid waste management plan that was adopted in January of 2018 includes an action item of adopting a siting ordinance. It has been in that plan for possible consideration,” Covington said. “With that said, I have presented two examples — one from Garrard County and one from Perry County. Those ordinances serve to regulate and site any waste management facility in the county. That is the purpose of this type of ordinance. It essentially lays out the guidelines for siting and the formal process of placing any solid waste management facility in Scott County going forward. Right now, we have nothing.”
Magistrate Chad Wallace asked if the siting ordinance had to be in place before the solid waste amendment plan is approve.
“You can amend the plan at any time. If you have not made any decisions on the site ordinance, but have a solid waste amendment plan ready, this would not hold that up. You can come back and update your plan with ordinances. This is an implementation and action ordinance,” DeLong said.
“If it were me, I would go ahead and put this in place as soon as you can so it can be wrapped up into the solid waste plan. But isn’t mandatory.”
Steven McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.