Shoosmith wants three 1997 proffers lifted

Shoosmith Bros. Inc. recently laid out its reasons for asking the county to lift three conditions placed on its landfill operations during its 1997 expansion.

At a March 3 community meeting, J. Fletcher Kelly, Shoosmith’s vice president of operations, presented an overview of the company’s application. Kelly, who is one of six partners who bought the landfill and Virginia Waste Services (VWS) in June 2008, said there may be more community meetings as the process continued.

The landfill, which is located just off Iron Bridge and Lewis Roads, was started in 1976, and was permitted for 200 acres of the 600-acre site, Kelly said. In 1997, Shoosmith asked to add 200 acres to the landfill and made 24 proffers during that application and approval process. The company is seeking changes to three of those proffers, he said.

“I want to emphasize that this is not an expansion in any way,” Kelly told the audience, which included about 10 residents. The amount of traffic coming to the landfill and the rate at which the landfill is filled will not change, he said.

The first of the three proffers Shoosmith wants to change prevents it from depositing out-of-state waste in the 1997 expansion area, he said. The landfill currently accepts out-of-state waste in its original section.

“We’re already doing it,” Kelly said. “It’s a very important part of our business.”

The amount of traffic won’t increase because the amount of trash the landfill can accept in a single day will remain the same, he said. When Shoosmith was sold in 2008, it wasn’t accepting out-of-state waste, Kelly said.

Accepting out-of-state waste has reduced the traffic on Iron Bridge Road, he said. In July 2008, the landfill took in an average of 3,100 tons of trash from 417 vehicles per day. In November 2009, Shoosmith took in an average of 4,300 tons of trash from 373 vehicles per day, he said.

The difference, he said, is the size of the vehicles – most out-of-state trash comes in tractor-trailers, which hold three to four times as much as normal trucks. And, when the landfill increased its daily tonnage, it was able to hire more people, he said.

The second of the three proffers prevents Shoosmith from putting waste in the quarry on the property while Vulcan Materials Company takes rock out, Kelly said. Allowing Shoosmith to do so would allow Vulcan to keep mining beyond 2018, he said, since “by 2018 I’m going to need to be down there.”

“We know it’s done,” Kelly said. “It’s not like we want to do something that’s never been done before.” To put trash in the quarry, which is essentially a “200-foot hole in the ground,” while Vulcan works, Shoosmith needs approval from the county, the Virginia Department of Environment Quality and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, he said.

The third proffer prevents Shoosmith from adding more waste to an area of the original landfill that has been capped. The area was set aside to remain at the same height it was in 1997, Kelly said, but filling it to the same height as the rest of the landfill would improve drainage.

If the county approves the change, Shoosmith will have to install a new liner in that section, since the original cell has been capped and closed, Kelly said, and the work would have to meet DEQ standards.

As Kelly fielded questions from audience members about the landfill’s smell and appearance, he said the company understood the importance of being a good neighbor.

“We still got to get along. … I like to go and eat downtown and not get beat up,” he said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

After the meeting, Selma Levy, a nearby resident, said, “they’re trying very hard and [Kelly’s] a very nice man, they’re just in the wrong place.”

“I don’t see any happy answer to it,” she said. Levy said she didn’t think more trash should be added to the area that has been capped, which is visible from Route 10.

Ray Walsh, a member of the Woodland Pond Homeowners Association, said there was “so much misunderstanding” of what Shoosmith is seeking to do.

“We’re here to understand the facts and communicate it back to our residents,” he said. “What we saw tonight was impressive. … This is an emotional thing.”

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