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Don’t rezone for landfill, northwest Cache residents tell County Council

September 14th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Rachel Kenley

LOGAN–The atmosphere was tense Tuesday when the Cache County Council heard public testimony on the proposed rezoning of land in Newton and Clarkston from agricultural to public use, to allow for construction of a landfill on Stink Creek Road.

Council Chairman Jon White opened the public hearing with words of warning: “Should someone get out of line, I’m not opposed to cutting you off.” The warning was necessary, as the audience grew more agitated as the hearing went on.

Chris Harrild, with the Cache County Planning Commission, began the hearing by speaking on the proposed landfill, citing a Site Suitability Analysis report published in 2003. He acknowledged that the road used to get to the landfill was unsuitable at the present time, and that the contamination of groundwater was a significant concern, but concluded his remarks by saying the landfill would be an appropriate use of the land. The Planning Commission recommended that the rezoning be approved.

Clair Christiansen then spoke, introducing a PowerPoint presentation and a group of concerned Cache Valley citizens. The speakers, residents of Newton and Clarkston, used the next hour to present their case on why the landfill would not be appropriate, citing cost, roads, water and geology, agriculture, wildlife and environment.

Those that spoke against the rezoning stressed that it would be “putting the cart before the horse.” They pleaded with the Council to do more research instead of basing their decision solely on the Site Suitability Analysis, which they claimed was full of faulty data.

“This area north of Clarkston…is the largest area of contiguous farm ground left in Cache Valley,” Kelli Myers said. “This is kind of it, for what we’ve got left for strictly agricultural use. The factor that makes it most appealing as a landfill site is also what has kept it preserved in agricultural production.”

Barry Myers also urged the Council to take their time with their decision. “Are we really ready to move forward with a permit to rezone at this point when there are so many environmental concerns that have not been addressed?”

Bruce Olenik, representing the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, expressed concerns as well, stating that environmental impacts do not respect state or county lines. “The planning process needs to allow our state concerns to be heard,” he said.

As the public hearing closed, the public became more distressed and adamant that the Council hear their cause. Though the hearing lasted an hour and a half, and was estimated by Councilman Craig Peterson to be the longest public hearing on record, the audience still grumbled at its close, saying things like “We were told we would have all the time we needed,” and calling out, “Is it suitable for a rezone? Is it suitable? Don’t rezone!”


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