Landfill negotiations come to a close, residents still have questions

Sep. 15—TOWN OF SEYMOUR — A finalized Seven Mile Creek Landfill negotiation has been completed and will move on to the next steps of approval.

The Seven Mile Creek Landfill Siting Committee and GFL Environmental met to finalize the negotiations for the last time on Thursday.

Local control negotiations have been underway for a long time.

"When I started this process my son was 4, he's now 8," Siting Committee Attorney Anders Helquist said. "This has taken a lot of work from the committee, a lot of valuable community input from the neighbors and a lot of work from GFL."

Mark Vinall, GFL general manager, said the company has seen many changes since negotiations started, but he is very pleased with the outcome.

"It almost seems a little bit anti-climatic considering it took so much time, but really a lot of the work has been done here in the last three-and-a-half months," Vinall said. "I want to thank everybody here for that work."

The initial expansion proposal would have increased the landfill's size from about 10.56 million to 14.69 million cubic yards, expanding it by nearly 40%. The expansion would have also increased the overall height of the landfill by 60 feet, bringing the landfill's total height to 1,165 feet.

Negotiations have mainly centered around the height of the expansion, property value guarantees, annual sociological payments and tonnage fees.

However, after tireless efforts from committee members, members of the neighborhood association and GFL representatives, a negotiated agreement has been reached.

The agreement will go to each of the municipalities involved, the Town of Seymour, the City of Eau Claire and Eau Claire County. Each municipality will review the agreement for approval.

"We started with a strong agreement that has now been enhanced in ways that will reduce the impact of the landfill on the community now and in the long term, while also taking extra steps to help compensate especially those neighbors nearby the landfill," Committee Chairman and Eau Claire City Attorney Stephen Nick told the Leader-Telegram.

The Town of Seymour will host a town meeting on Sept. 26 to address any questions or comments residents may have about the agreement.

Highlights of the agreement

One hundred and eleven owner-occupied properties will be covered by the sociological payment and 47 property owners will be protected by the property value protection plan. The property protection plan guarantees in the event that the home does not sell after it is listed, GFL will buy it at the fair market value.

Sociological payments range from $2,200 to $500 depending on the property's vicinity to the landfill. Properties bordering landfill and within a quarter-mile radius out from the boundary will receive $2,200; properties within a quarter-mile to half-mile radius from the boundary receive $1,500; properties within half-mile to 3/4 mile radius from the boundary receive $1,000; properties within 3/4 mile along highway CTH, Q or 90th corridors that are within 3/4 of a mile to 1 mile from the boundary receive $750; and properties within 3/4 mile to a 1-mile radius outside of highway corridors will receive $500.

GFL has agreed to monitor County Highway Q within 3 miles to the west and 1 mile to the east of the landfill entrance and will pick up litter on a regular and continuing basis, no less than once per day.

GFL also agreed to implement sweeping and watering practices on roadways, drives, and other areas traveled by trucks within the Property Boundary to control dust and dirt accumulation. Debris deposited in the Active Fill Area will be covered as quickly as possible, and odor suppression systems and masking agents will be used as needed to help manage odors.

The final height expansion negotiated should not exceed a 33-foot increase, bringing the landfill's total height to 1128.5 feet. If future expansions occur, additional payments will be triggered

Properties under the property value protection plans will receive an annual 2.2% additional increase of their sociological payments.

Seven Mile Creek Landfill will have a $2/ton tonnage fee effective Sept. 30, with the additional 25-cent town fee. Helquist told the Leader-Telegram the Consumer Price Index will increase that tonnage fee again on Jan. 1.

Residents still have questions

A few Town of Seymour residents brought forth a series of questions at Thursday's meeting.

Residents who live around the landfill have remaining questions regarding the final negotiations logistics — such as how the figures for the sociological payments were chosen.

"The people who live closest to the landfill are the people you should be taking care of first," Nicki Gingras, a Seymour resident, said. "I feel like there's no regard to our property, our feelings, what we deal with on a daily basis."

Town of Seymour Chairwoman Jessica Janssen said these questions and more will be answered at the town meeting.