Council opposes SWACO landfill proposal

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

According to officials from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), there are about 20 years left in the life of the current landfill.

In order to extend the life of the landfill, SWACO has submitted a permit to the Ohio EPA, with long range plans to maximize the landfill’s footprint by increasing the limits of waste by 52 acres. The landfill is currently 534 acres, though only 283 acres are used for waste.

According to Scott Perry, director of operations and maintenance for SWACO, the proposal could extend the life of the landfill another 50 years or more.

While the plan to extend the life of the landfill works for many communities in central Ohio,
it does not work for one – Grove City.

At the May 1 meeting, Grove City Council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution to oppose the permit application SWACO submitted to the Ohio EPA. The main point of contention for council members is the plan to increase the elevation, or the slope, of the landfill by 175 feet. The proposal increases the top-of-waste elevation from 1,075 feet above mean sea level to 1,250 feet above mean sea level.

Though SWACO’s landfill is located in Jackson Township, it sits in Grove City’s backyard. Council members fear building the landfill up would move it closer to State Route 665.

“It already sticks out like a sore thumb,” said council president Roby Schottke. “Please don’t go higher.”

Councilman Ted Berry said he climbed the landfill eight years ago and at that time, it was nearly as tall as the Rife Tower in Columbus.

“Now, it will be as tall as the Huntington Bank Building,” said Berry.

According to Perry, the proposal would maximize the area SWACO already has instead of using even more land.

Council members say the city sees no advantage in having the landfill located so close to the city limits. In fact, they say it hinders economic development.

“We get nothing out of this,” said Berry. “The city does not even collect income taxes from SWACO. And the city is the area taking the economic hit.”

Since SWACO is located in Jackson Township, the township receives a tipping fee of about $250,000 a year.

According to Grove City Administrator Chuck Boso, the city expanded the community reinvestment area to include city land near the landfill. Per that agreement, the city agreed to pay the South-Western City Schools District $100,000 – $ 75,000 to the district and $25,000 to the educational foundation.

“We paid that every year for 15 years,” said Boso. “There was no development.”

Berry said the landfill creates an image problem that does not help attract businesses to the area.

Several years ago, a recycling company, Team Gemini, had plans to locate a facility near SWACO property in the city. That plan fell through.

According to Ty Marsh, executive director of SWACO, the company receives many calls from businesses interested in developing in that area, but SWACO wants to make sure a developer would compliment their operations. Marsh said SWACO just recently received the property back from Gemini and the company would be willing to work with the city to bring development to that area.

In addition to the economic concerns addressed by council members, city officials are also concerned about public health and safety.

Councilman Steve Bennett said with the landfill being as tall as a 40-story building, he is concerned about the potential for a landslide.

“There is nothing to stop that from coming down,” said Bennett. “That is too close to 665 and Interstate 71.”

According to Marsh, SWACO has never had a major problem and inspectors from the health department in Franklin County as well as from the Ohio EPA check the site regularly.

“Our mission is public health and safety,” said Marsh.

While Marsh said he understands concerns by city council members, SWACO has made every effort to be a good neighbor.

“We take pride in being a good neighbor,” he said.

In an effort to keep Grove City streets clean from trash and debris, Marsh said SWACO uses a wash to clean the trucks before they enter the city roadways. He said the company also sweeps the streets and cleans up litter along Interstate 71.

“We promote cleanliness,” said Marsh.

Though the SWACO proposal has support from many communities in central Ohio, the company does not need permission from the jurisdictions. According to Perry, the Ohio EPA will review the permit application and present SWACO with its findings within the next several months.

The EPA will decide if SWACO gets the green light to increase the height of the landfill.

SWACO serves 41 communities in central Ohio and brings in approximately 4,000 tons of trash per day from Franklin County.

A copy of SWACO’s proposed permit to install application to the Ohio EPA is available for review at the Grove City Library.

For more information about the landfill or about SWACO’s long range plans, contact Scott Perry at scott.perry@swaco.org or 614-801-6436.

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