Commission recommends denial of Shoosmith landfill request

After more than a dozen residents shared concerns about the proposal last week, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of a request from the Shoosmith Bros. Inc. landfill.

“Listening to these folks tonight … they have concerns, and that’s who we represent, are the people of this county,” Matoaca Commissioner F. Wayne Bass said, drawing applause from the audience.

The Shoosmith Bros. Inc. landfill, located just off Iron Bridge and Lewis Roads, was started in 1976 and permitted for 200 acres of the 600-acre site. In 1997, Shoosmith sought to add 200 acres to the landfill and made 24 proffers during that application and approval process.

The company is seeking changes to two of those proffers and one covenant to allow: The acceptance of out-of-state trash in the new section of the landfill; landfill and quarrying operations in the quarry at the same time; and the addition of more waste to an area of the landfill that has been capped.

In its report on the case, the planning staff recommended approval of the request because “the proposed amendments should have no greater impact on the area than the approved uses as currently conditioned.”

At the July 20 meeting, Brennan Keene, an attorney representing the landfill, said he’d circulated a report on blasting since the June 15 meeting.

“Landfills are designed with regard to seismic events with two things in mind,” he said: Man-made seismic events and “acts of God.” The landfill’s design took into account the worst earthquake ever recorded within 100 miles of the site, he said. He noted that Shoosmith now blasts right beside existing cells to create new cells.

“There are no conditions before you dealing with odor management, because that’s not part of the case,” Keene said.

But, Shoosmith does do ambient air monitoring at the perimeter of the landfill, and has also been doing such monitoring in the Highlands, a nearby neighborhood, he said.

And, the community outreach group, a voluntary effort to this point, has been added as a requirement to the odor management plan, he said.

The landfill “is constantly … digesting the waste, and it changes over time, and it’s impossible to predict where odors are going to come from at any given time,” he said.

Thirteen residents spoke in opposition to the request. Robert Lee said he had a petition with more than 80 signatures of people against the request.

Tim Vermaaten, an Arbor Landing resident, said complaints about the landfill’s odor continued to roll in. When it’s hot, the landfill blames the odor on the heat, he said, and when it rains, the rain is to blame.

“Nothing has been done to mitigate the odor problem,” he said. “All they have is nothing but excuses.”

Scott Reese, of the Highlands, said the Planning Commission was the “wall between us and Shoosmith.”

“You determine the future, and your residents have spoken out loudly and clearly what they want,” Reese said. “Please consider this in your vote and do not turn our back yards into a BP.”

Tom Watson said the drainage concerns cited as a reason for adding more waste to a capped area of the landfill could be easily addressed with fill dirt.

“I used to call about the odor problem, but I gave up about 10 years ago because it wasn’t going to quit,” he said.

Bob Schrum, the owner of Flagstop Carwash, said his office is near the landfill, and the odor problem has “gotten dramatically less” in the past couple years.

“I am in favor of the landfill being able to expand or grow,” he said. “I think there’s lots of systems in place to ensure the citizens of Chesterfield County are safe.”

Bass said he was received well at Shoosmith and the company seemed to run a clean operation, but he didn’t understand how the blasting could take place so close to the landfill liner in the quarry without damaging it.

Bermuda Commissioner Sam R. Hassen said he’d been back and forth on the request since March, but he planned to vote against it. He said he still had a problem with the simultaneous landfilling and excavating in the quarry, and with more out-of-state trash being accepted.

“I recognize the economy’s tough now, however I feel bringing in more out-of-state waste is not the thing to do at this time,” he said.

Commission Chairman William “Bill” Brown, who represents the Dale District, said the issue of the joint operations in the quarry was beyond his expertise to evaluate. On the other issues, he’d vote “yes,” but he would, instead, vote against the request, he said.

“Yeah, the landfill stinks,” he said, but some people have said it stinks less now than it did years ago.

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