Landfill Expansion

Debrief  On Tuesday, March 27 I attended a BOT meeting where the main topic of discussion was the expansion of the Front Range Landfill. This is a very contentious issue. All 13 public comments were people who spoke out against the idea and most of the board members had excellent questions or comments. In the end the vote was delayed so town staff can go back to the negotiating table and address the many concerns.

I would vote No  If you want to save yourself the time of reading my opinions, that is my bottom line. There are some things I like and a lot that I do not. Given what I know right now, my vote would be no.

My thoughts  The pre-annexation agreement is complex with a lot of points to address. It is important to note that I was not privy to any closed door sessions and I found out about this at the same time as everyone else. I do not have all the facts the sitting board has. I paid particular attention to the following and here are my opinions on them in no particular order.

  • The Denver Regional Landfill will commit to a closure date.

The DRL property, which is on the west side of the street (WCR5) across from the Front Range Landfill cannot legally take much more waste as it is. What they are accepting right now is construction waste and debris from the repair of flooded areas. Having a date of closure is symbolic only. This dump will close soon one way or another.

  • The waste stream from DRL will be allowed into the Front Range Landfill, increasing the types of waste they will accept.

This feels like an end-run around residents to increase the types of waste allowed without calling it that. The thinking seems to be: it was allowed in the old landfill, so it is all good for this one. 

  • Truck traffic will be diverted off WCR 5 and routed onto the I-25 frontage road and WCR 6.

I like the idea of moving trucks off that street. As the founder of the singletrack trails that so many people are riding along WCR 5 to get to, I am very concerned about the dangerous situation cyclists of all ages put themselves in. 

  • The ‘Blue Jungle’ will be moved off County Line Road

The Blue Jungle is the facility where all Waste Connections trucks are parked. It is on County Line Road near Hwy 7. The best benefit to the town I can see is to remove an eyesore but no mention of the other visual oddities like the water treatment plant or orange storage facility was raised. Also, with the Parkdale neighborhood being developed, County Line Rd will be moved away from the Blue Jungle so I don’t see the need to make this a significant point of the agreement.

  • The entrance to FRL will be moved to the NE corner of the landfill

This was supposed to be done years ago and the landfill is supposed to pay $1K a day for not moving it on time. This is my biggest sticking point of the whole proposal. Why are we not enforcing, much less acknowledging, that the previous contract exists? We need to execute that one before beginning another one.

  • They will fill in approximately 12 acres on the western side of the property which will take 5-7 years to complete.

The activity of filling land on the west side will be visible for miles from all points in Erie. It will be a disgusting eyesore. In addition, all the cyclists at the singletrack would be subject to the stench and debris from that operation. This absolutely cannot happen; especially for the length of time they are predicting.

  • They will expand 36 acres on the southeast portion of the property.

My understanding of this is that if we don’t annex and control this SE expansion, Weld County will do it and then Erie will have very little say in the matter. I’m unsure of my opinion here. It expands the life of the dump by about 20 years and I don’t want to curse my grandchildren by that much. However, if they are going to do it anyway, Erie should grab as much authority over it as we can.

  • They will pay $4.5M dollars toward the town hall expansion project

As of today, the Town Hall expansion project (Ballot Question 3A) has not been approved. How can we legally earmark money for a project that doesn’t exist? Maybe my understanding of the funds isn’t complete but this looks like a payoff to exit the previous agreement between the town and FRL with a wink saying they will help build a new facility. I don’t like the games being played here. It’s also not a lot of money considering the revenue the landfill will realize and it is slated to arrive in payments versus as a lump sum. There are lots of red flags on this point.

  • They will put in a bike path and landscaping along the western edge of the property after operations move off it.

I love bike paths. Let’s do this anyway.