Lower Windsor Twp. residents resist Modern Landfill expansion

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

Lower Windsor Township residents were up in arms last week over Modern Landfill's proposed expansion, leading the Board of Supervisors to table its vote on the updated host agreement until January.

The new agreement would guarantee monetary benefits and other perks to the township valued at $2.1 million a year, an increase from the current $1.2 million agreement, but it would also preclude the township from opposing the landfill's eastward expansion.

"You are abrogating the rights of all the people in this township," said Chuck Van De Water, a resident of East Prospect Road. "You're giving the township away. That is a travesty."

About 60 people attended the board meeting Thursday, Dec. 12. Several of them spoke during public comment to oppose the agreement and ask the board to postpone the vote.

Their concerns included the loss of the agricultural landscape of the proposed expansion area, environmental damage and a potential decline in property values.

The board asked Tim O'Donnell, general manager of the landfill, to return in January for a special meeting and public presentation with more information for residents.

Republic Services is the landfill's parent company.

Modern Landfill, owned by Republic Services, in Windsor Township, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Van De Water, 74, has lived on East Prospect Road for 41 years.

He said the sights, sounds and smells of the landfill are already encroaching on his ability to enjoy his property, and he doesn't want the area to lose its remaining farmland to an expansion.

The proposed expansion area is in an agricultural zone.

Lower Windsor Township would need to either grant a zoning variance to Republic to allow industrial development or amend its zoning map to change the area to an industrial zone, said Monica Love, the township's zoning officer.

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One woman at the meeting asked O'Donnell what he would do to prevent the landfill from needing another expansion if the new area were to fill up.

The best way to prevent another expansion would be for all of us to collectively stop generating waste, O'Donnell said.

"Our job is to provide a service that, as a society, we all need," he said. "When society decides we’re not going to create waste anymore, then landfills will go away."

The expansion must be approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection, O'Donnell said, and the permitting process can take years.

When another resident asked the supervisors why they wanted to sign the agreement, Board Chairman Barry Miller said that yes, it's about the money.

"I would challenge anyone here to come up with an idea of how we can make up for that $1.2 million that we’ll be receiving this year another way," Miller said.

Lower Windsor Township receives 97 cents per ton of waste disposed of in the existing landfill, and the landfill collects about 5,000 tons per day, O'Donnell said.

Modern Landfill, owned by Republic Services, in Windsor Township, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo.

The host fee the township collects would increase to $1.35 per ton if Republic begins disposing of waste in the proposed expansion.

Under the new agreement, Republic would also pay $250,000 to the township in three installments plus $30,000 per year to be used for emergency services.

Other in-kind services would include free residential trash pickup and disposal for township residents; reimbursement to the township for bridge maintenance and fire hydrants; and street sweeping and waste pickup during spring and fall cleaning events.

The landfill sits in Windsor and Lower Windsor townships with a footprint of 230 acres, and company officials expect it to reach capacity in about five years, O'Donnell said.

The eastward expansion would sit within the area bordered by East Prospect Road to the north, Barcroft Road to the east, Gun Club Road to the south and Mount Pisgah Road to the west.

The earliest the expanded area would be used is 2025, O'Donnell said.

Republic already owns about 200 acres of the land in the proposed expansion area, but O'Donnell said it's too early to know exactly how many acres the expansion would cover.

The company will have a conceptual design of the expansion within a year, he said.

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