Landfill firms team up before county board

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2001

There was a time when Veit Demolition Inc.

Friday, April 06, 2001

There was a time when Veit Demolition Inc. and Lansing Landfill Inc. would not give each other the time of day.

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The two competitors for demolition debris made no secret of their distaste for each other.

Lansing Landfill Inc. was first to open a demolition landfill in Lansing Township. When Veit Demolition Inc. of Rogers obtained a conditional use permit to operate a landfill less than a quarter-mile away from Lansing Landfill Inc., there was no "block party" for the newcomers to Lansing Township.

Imagine how the Mower County Board of Commissioners felt Tuesday, when Veit and Lansing Landfill joined forces to pursue the same goal: having a new fee imposed on operators of landfills rescinded.

The businesses claim they were not notified of the new tax and if they do collect the fee, they will have to pass it along to their customers and the possibility is real, their bottom line will be impacted negatively.

Thus, the former enemies became allies when their businesses’ profits were threatened.

Scott VanDenHeuvel argued the case for Veit. Richard Wehner Jr. argued the case for Lansing Landfill.

VanDenHeuvel disputed the county’s assertion that proper notice had been given of the proposed new fee. Wehner and Gilbert R. Johnson, manager at the Lansing Landfill site, wrote to Daryl W. Franklin, Mower County planner and zoning administrator, on Feb. 27 to share their concerns.

Franklin was ready for the twin protests.

He produced copies of the notice of the July 25 meeting of the Mower County Planning Commission, where the amendment to the county’s solid waste ordinance was first discussed. In addition, Franklin produced the minutes of the July 25 meeting when the amendment was endorsed by the commission by a 4-0 vote.

Franklin also produced the official minutes of the county board meeting, setting an Aug. 22 public hearing on the proposed amendment, the order to have the official newspaper of record print a notice of that hearing and the results of the Aug. 22 hearing, where the amendment calling for the new fee was approved by a unanimous vote of the commissioners.

The amended ordinance went into effect Jan. 2 and now three months later the two affected businesses say it isn’t fair.

Len Miller, Fourth District county commissioner, was chairman of the Planning Commission when the July 25 meeting was held to first discuss the proposed amendment. Miller claimed, "Veit was at that meeting. They had a representative there, but I don’t remember his name."

According to VanDenHeuel, the new fee of 50 cents per cubic yard of waste delivered to the Veit landfill along U.S. Highway 218 north will reduce profits by 8 percent to 10 percent.

"We feel we were blindsided," he said.

Richard P. Cummings, First District county commissioner, admitted that a failure to notice all appropriate residents of a pending ordinance change affecting their specific area "has happened before."

However, Glen Jacobsen, chief deputy attorney for Mower County and legal counsel to the county board, said the county had satisfactorily fulfilled all statutory requirements for making notice.

Wehner picked up where VanDenHeuvel left off in complaining his company didn’t receive notice.

But notice of exchange of letters between Lansing Landfill Inc. and the county planning office beginning Feb. 16, Ray Tucker, Second District county commissioner, asked Wehner and VanDenHeuvel, "How many times do you need to be notified?"

VanDenHeuvel said Veit has not yet been able to adjust its internal collection system to pass along the 50 cents per cubic yard to Veit customers. Wehner said Lansing Landfill has not passed the fee along to its customers.

Both said they have financial assurances in place that are larger than the minimums required to operate a landfill.

The county imposed the 50 cents per cubic yard fee, which is allowed by statute and is not the maximum they could charge, "to protect our county and our citizens," according to Miller.

The matter was referred to the county board’s solid waste and ordinance committees for a recommendation.

VanDenHeuvel and Wehner requested they be notified of those meetings, because, they said they want to attend and be heard.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at