Council speaks out against monofill

Petition, resolution take aim at project


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Chugiak’s Scott Girard points to a map showing property within one mile of a proposed monofill dump site. Girard warned his neighbors that if the monofill is allowed to open, anyone living nearby may see their property lose value.

MATT TUNSETH

A large crowd of vocal Chugiak residents turned out for the Thursday, May 16 meeting of the Chugiak Community Council at the Oberg Center in Chugiak to show opposition to an inert debris monofill site proposed for their community.

“It’s too close,” said Jake Horazdovsky, who said his home is just 1,500 feet from the proposed site.

Horazdovsky was one of several Chugiak residents who circulated a petition in opposition to the “monofill,” a landfill designed to handle just one type of waste — in this case, construction and demolition debris. By May 16, the group had gathered more than 586 signatures to be forwarded to the Planning and Zoning Commission (PNZ).

Scott Girard signed the petition and spoke out against the monofill during the council meeting. Girard, who lives in a neighborhood across the Old Glenn Highway from the site, said he doesn’t think the landfill fits into the mostly residential area.

“They’re messing up our reason for being here,” Girard said.

The proposed monofill would be placed on land owned by Eklutna Inc. located off Kerbow Lane. The road is currently used to access a municipal sand storage facility, as well as archery and equestrian grounds located at Loretta French Park. The monofill site itself would occupy about 17 acres of land, developers said, with filling done in stages.

The area proposed for dumping is a steep ravine on the opposite side of Kerbow from Loretta French Park. Monofill developer Central Recycling Services says it plans to use the area for 20-30 years, after which time the site — which would then be level ground — could be used for recreational purposes.

Eklutna needs permission to rezone the location from the PNZ. The land is currently zoned PC (planned community), which means Eklutna has leeway to write its own zoning rules. But those rules must be approved first by PNZ and then given the okay by the Anchorage Assembly. Before any landfill could go into operation, CRS would also have to obtainin permits from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the muni.

The community council has no power to stop the rezoning process, but it does act in an advisory role. Judging by the council’s actions, the majority of Chugiak residents appeared to be against the monofill. A resolution to not oppose Eklutna’s rezone attempt failed by a wide margin (about 50-3), while a resolution to oppose the monofill passed with even one fewer vote from the pro-monofill camp.

Opponents of the monofill say it will potentially create excess traffic, reduce property values, endanger bike path users, increase dust, pollute the water and doesn’t fit with the community; they also argue that it’s too close to facilities like the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center, Chugiak Elementary, Loretta French and the Oberg Center itself.

CRS owner Stuart Jacques said neighborhood fears are overblown. He pointed out that the company has attended a half-dozen community council meetings, operates a similar facility near Fairbanks without incident and has taken numerous steps to alleviate environmental and traffic safety issues.

“We have done a huge amount to address those concerns,” Jacques said.

For example, he said, CRS modified its traffic pattern so trucks wouldn’t turn left onto the Old Glenn and agreed to install monitoring wells and make the wells’ data available to the public.

Jacques told the crowd they needn’t worry about toxic materials at the dump. He said the company only accepts nontoxic construction and demolition materials at its recycling plant, and hand-sorts debris to make sure nothing hazardous ends up in its waste stream.

“There’s very strict limitations on what we’re allowed to accept,” he said.

To prove his point, Jacques passed around several plastic bags containing the material that would be dumped into the monofill.

CRS project manager Shane Durand said the material presents no threat to the public.

“There’s multiple ways it’s screened and checked,” said Durand, a Chugiak High graduate who said he welcomes anyone who’d like to tour the company’s facility near Ship Creek.

Durand’s assurances did little to change the minds of neighborhood residents, who vowed to continue fighting the proposed monfill when the PNZ Commission takes up the zoning issue July 1.

“We’re not just a bunch of crazed people saying ‘not in my backyard,’” said Scott Girard. “It doesn’t fit the zoning.”

 

matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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