Strike 2 for new landfill

Friday, September 25, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON -- Residents opposed to a new 59-acre landfill in southern Warren County warned Thursday of dangerous trash trucks, billowing dust and plummeting home values.

They played a homemade video featuring Union Township children pleading against the proposed waste site.

And their arguments helped persuade the county's Regional Planning Commission to vote 8-1 against a plan by Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) to build the landfill adjacent to the Bigfoot Run waste site near the Little Miami River.

It was the second defeat for BFI before the county planning commission in two months.

But the landfill proposal, dubbed Bigfoot II, is not dead.

BFI and landfill opponents square off again Wednesday in front of the Warren County Zoning Commission, which is not bound by the regional commission's recommendation. Both sides left Thursday's public meeting, at which more than 50 people packed into a conference room, saying their resolve remains strong to keep fighting.

"We'll play the string out. It may end up in courts, where the issue isn't confused by emotion," said Rob Dolder, district vice president of BFI.

Mr. Dolder said BFI has no intention of withdrawing its application before the zoning board hearing.

BFI had withdrawn its zoning change request in July after losing a recommendation vote by the planning commission.

Applause erupted after the commission's 8-1 vote Thursday. One of those clapping the hardest was Susan Chasteen, whose home is on Trovillo Road immediately north of BFI's landfill property. She said she has put up with Bigfoot Run landfill problems for years knowing that the waste disposal site was scheduled to close in 1999.

But when BFI officials proposed a new landfill just north of its present operation -- which will reach capacity and close in May -- Ms. Chasteen was one of many Union Township residents to mobilize to fight it.

"The noise, the smell and the flies are terrible," she said. "It's a mountain, and it's in our back yard."

Ms. Chasteen created a short video featuring children playing in the rural area around the site.

"BFI may be the big, seemingly undefeatable giant . . . but in the end, the ones with heart won the battle," she said.

Michael Virelli, superintendent of Little Miami Local Schools, warned that a new landfill would mean more heavy trash trucks on the roads surrounding a high school being built a mile from the site.

"Our concern is school safety. There's going to be fatality; it's just a matter of time," Mr. Virelli told the commission.

Bigfoot II would cost BFI as much as $20 million and could be opened as early as the summer 1999. It would eventually save Warren County residents from higher trash hauling fees, say BFI officials, that would result if the county does not allow BFI to replace the county's only landfill.

"Warren County needs a landfill," said Mr. Dolder.

If the county zoning board approves BFI's proposal next week, it still requires approval from Warren County commissioners and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

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