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Posted: 03/05/14

Hackel: We're not at
capacity for county landfill

Observer Staff Writer
      Macomb County officials disagree on the need to form a committee that talks trash.
       The Board of Commissioners voted on Jan. 28 to ask the executive's office to form a committee that would re-examine the county's solid waste plan due to changes in how waste and recycling is managed.
       County Executive Mark Hackel, though, objects to forming the committee at this time since the county is not at capacity for its landfill.
       The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recommends reviewing solid waste plans every 10 years. The last update for Macomb County's plan was in 1999.
       Commissioner Don Brown, who offered the resolution, said proper planning through the Solid Waste Committee would prevent another landfill from forming in northern Macomb County, such as through unlimited trash exportation to disposal sites like those in St. Clair or Genesee counties. Macomb County's landfill is Pine Tree Acres in Lenox Township.
       "If we don't start planning and extend the life of the landfill for another 20 years, we won't have to rush to find another site or landfill," she said.
       Brown said liquid waste management shares a similar problem. He said the north end in particular utilizes septic fields, and if liquid waste could be transported to St. Clair County it could moderate prices. The current plan, though, doesn't permit it to be shipped out.
       "We need a committee to look at it and decide if nothing needs to be done or say that there are things we can do to make it better," he said.
       Hackel said the Michigan DEQ and the county's planning department haven't indicated Pine Tree Acres is at its limit, so he doesn't see a reason for re-examining the solid waste plan.
       "If there was a capacity issue then we'd have a time constraint, a timeline issue to address and there would be a need to move forward," he said. "Since it is not a capacity issue there is no time constraint that I'm under or requires immediate action."
       He said addressing secondary issues through the solid waste plan should be left to local governments, regardless of whether they're for importing, exporting or septic.
       "It's simple for me, I look at solid waste or trash as a local issue, and I will listen to their interests in wanting to seat it (the committee) if it is something that is a public interest," he said. "The private sector will not move this issue."
       He said some local officials have expressed interest to reform the committee, but wants more information and input before moving forward.
       Communities like Washington Township have approved resolutions that say they will not host a new landfill site in their municipality. A group known as Citizens for a Better Macomb County protested Rizzo Environmental Services' efforts to create a landfill, saying Pine Tree Acres can serve Macomb County for another 50 years.
       Hackel and Brown indicated even if a committee is formed, there wouldn't be immediate actions or changes. The process to approve of changes includes a recommendation from the committee that the board examines before sending it to the state. The recommendation then goes before local municipalities to vote on the matter.
       "This is a long, drawn-out process, it could take a year to years for them to come up with a recommendation," Hackel said.

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