More than 200 people attended a public hearing Thursday night on Scott County’s plan to amend its Solid Waste Management Plan.
And the message was clear from those filling the lower section of the Scott County High School gym — “Don’t Dump On Us” by approving expanded capacity for the current landfill and its operators and stop the transportation of other county’s trash to the Central Kentucky Landfill.
Speaker after speaker strode to the microphone to describe how the landfill has negatively affected their quality of life, safety concerns of the roads leading to the landfill because of the out-of-county waste being brought in and the numerous violations the landfill has incurred all makes them an unwelcome community partner.
No one on behalf of the Waste Services of the Bluegrass, who operates the landfill, spoke in favor of expanding capacity.
“In 2004, my wife and I decided to build in Scott County and move from Franklin County. This landfill has been nothing but a problem after problem for the community,” Michael Whitcomb said. “We live one mile from the landfill. From our bedroom window, we can now see the landfill. There are times in the winter we have had to turn off our heat to keep the smell from blowing around because it gets trapped. I have to smell the clothes in my closet. When we heard it was expanding, we came to a meeting and thought we were alone. We were not. There’s people in this community willing to stand and fight for what they have worked hard for. My wife and I worked hard for the house we built.
“Violation after violation they have committed. The only time they corrected anything is when they got caught. It needs to be shut down.”
The smell and gas from the landfill has made Veronica Smith literally ill, she said.
“I have health problems, but I was planting flowers one day and I started getting dizzy and almost passed out,” she said. “I had to call the sheriff’s office and when they came out they said it was the methane smell that was affecting me. You can sit in my house and the smell comes through every vent in the house.
“You can’t escape the smell. We can’t have people out. The only thing you can do is cover your mouth and pray you get inside out of the worst of it. My prayer is the leaders of the community will consider the citizens and their health and well-being. That should be more important than anything else.”
Edward Zaletta said he is concerned about the trucks on the highway and it is not safe for kids, and the site of the growing pile of trash that can reach hundreds of feet high.
“At one meeting it was said that would be the tallest point in Scott County. Is this what we want for our towns, our county and our backyards? Why are we taking trash from other counties and it filled up faster than it should?” he said.
“Why are we bringing in other people’s trash when we are one of the fastest growing cities and counties in Kentucky? We have beautiful homes. We don’t need other people’s trash,” said Anetta Scott, whose family grew up in the area near the landfill. “We have let all this come in and destroy our land and homes. People can’t raise their windows or turn on their air. Let’s hope and pray our current administration can take care of the situation.”
Landin Stadnyk, a SCHS junior, said he didn’t want his generation and those coming behind him to have to pay for decisions made in the past or now.
“Young people like myself are often overlooked in society. We are often discouraged to participate because we are immature or inexperienced, so I ask that you listen with an open mind,” he said.
“As you have heard many say, the odor from the landfill is horrible. And that problem is immediate. But eventually, the environmental and medical costs will greatly outweigh any money this may bring in. These governmental bodies are looking for an immediate solution while sacrificing our long-term well being. My generation and others to come should not have to live with an environmental, economic and medical disaster because everyone was unwilling to look at all options. We must not sacrifice our future.”
Frequent landfill critic Millie Wrobleski said the odor is not her biggest concern.
“I’m glad it has drawn attention to it, but to me, the odor should be a warning to us about what is out there,” said Wrobleski before turning her attention on Waste Services. “What I see from Waste Services of the Bluegrass, when they come to these meetings, they complain we are complaining about how they do business. They can’t control the odor, but they tell us they can. (When something happens) it is next week before they get a part. Or a cap blew off. They are taking all this garbage from other counties. They are incapable of controlling it. They didn’t set up the infrastructure to be a regional landfill and now they want to be a regional landfill. They had plenty of room for our garbage before but since then they signed these contracts, and I understand they are only acting on a fraction of the contracts they have signed, imagine the non-stop traffic coming in.”
She said her request is definitely don’t expand the capacity, but to consider eliminating it. Other counties send their garbage elsewhere, she said.
“That is just another tactic of theirs,” Wrobleski said. “Consider their practices and how they have been unable to follow regulations to the detriment of our health and environment.”
The landfill has taken a toll on his property value, Thomas Robl said.
“I moved here from Fayette County and put a lot of money in our property. I could not sell it now if I wanted to move back. That’s a real damage financially for me and our neighbors. Eventually this could go into a class action lawsuit,” said Roble, who is also a geologist. “It has gotten too big for them to manage. It is a environmental bomb for future generations.”
Steve Porter, a lawyer who represents several members of the audience, talked about how the residents have fought and won several decisions in court against the landfill’s expansion plans.
“We have won a lot of victories, and some more to win. And this is one of them — what plan is the county going to take,” he said. “We need to have a major change to what happens to waste in Scott County and what comes into Scott County does not need to come in anymore. The county has rejected the 500 acres expansion and to go up 200 feet above Double Culvert Road. We need to reject any expansion or any allowance of this landfill.
“When the city sold the landfill to Waste Services of the Bluegrass, they ran it for 16 years as a small landfill. Then came Lexington’s garbage and sludge. That impact has been great and made that landfill very different than people thought when it was sold originally. Before Lexington, the landfill took in 250 tons of garbage a day. When Lexington came in, it takes in 1,000 tons of garbage a day. Before Lexington, the landfill had 22 years of life just from the garbage in Scott County. Now it is just over a year. In four years, they have filled up the landfill with Lexington garbage.”
The question is what does Scott County want, he said.
“Do you want a long-term landfill taking in garbage from other counties, or do you want something that is no more smell, no more truck traffic, no more dirt on the roads. And that is what I think the people in this auditorium is telling you,” Porter said. “There are many landfills in your area that have space for your garbage. It can go to other places. Most counties around you don’t have a landfill. But there are other counties that have landfills that are not next to people’s farms and houses.”
Scott County Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington said the hearing was to gather the public’s input on whether to amend the 2018-2022 Scott County Solid Waste Management Plan to eliminate capacity for disposal of municipal solid waste within the Scott County Solid Waste Management are and to secure commitments from solid waste disposal facility or facilities outside the county to fulfill the obligations of the Solid Waste Management Area or to reduce but continue to authorize capacity for disposal of waste generated in and out of the Management Area under the terms of a host agreement. When the responses are ready, a public notice will be made.
“This was an opportunity for the community to voice their concerns and frustrations,” he said. “I think this was a fair forum and for people to be part of the process.”
The format for the public hearing was for those who signed up to speak for three minutes. Members of the Scott County Fiscal Court did not respond to questions or comments. The county recorded all comments and the 75 emails they had received leading up to the hearing and will respond to those comments within 15 days. The responses will be sent to the speakers, and be available to the public, likely at the courthouse and the Scott County Public Library.
Steve McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.