County could update landfill ordinance

Published 10:55 am Monday, April 27, 2015

A road runs behind Veit’s main dump north of Austin. Veit is attempting to buy the road that runs between both of its dumps. -- Herald file photo

A road runs behind Veit’s main dump north of Austin. Veit is attempting to buy the road that runs between both of its dumps. — Herald file photo

Mower County could be doing its homework to make sure it’s prepared for potential landfill requests from SKB Environmental.

At Tuesday’s 8:30 a.m. county board meeting, the Solid Waste Committee is expected to recommend the board authorize the committee, the planning commission and other staff to study and review the county’s ordinance for landfills and solid waste to make sure it’s up-to-date after talk that SKB is looking into converting its Austin site to a municipal solid waste landfill — meaning it would accept household garbage.

“The board is just basically doing their due diligence to look at their current ordinance,” County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said.

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Talk about the landfill sparked after SKB acquired neighboring Veit Solid Waste Facility last year and after company representatives spoke at a Lansing Township meeting.

SKB Division Vice President John Domke confirmed the business is looking into adding mixed municipal solid waste — or household garbage — and possibly recycling services to its Austin site.

“We feel there’s a need there,” he told the Herald in March.

However, Domke noted SKB is still early in the discussion process, and no proposals had been submitted to the state, Lansing Township or Mower County as of mid April.

For the county to look into its ordinance, it’s largely a matter of making sure there are no holes in the landfill ordinance, which is several years old. The board wants to make sure there are no surprises should SKB eventually make an official request.

If the board approves studying its ordinance, county staff would look into the ordinance and eventually report back to the board about whether any changes are needed.

“At the end of the day, there may be no change or they could go to a more comprehensive ordinance,” Oscarson said.

Should the board wish to change the ordinance, it would need to hold a public hearing about the proposed changes. The board could enact a moratorium delaying landfill requests until after changes are made.

SKB, a subsidiary of Waste Connections, owns about 166 acres north of Austin and west of U.S. Highway 218 at 52563 243rd St. But the original SKB site is separated from the Veit site by 243rd Street with 90 acres to the west and 76 acres to the east.

SKB officials said they may ask the township to vacate a portion of 243rd Street that runs between SKB and the former Veit site so the company can combine the sites.

SKB and Veit are both permitted as demolition/construction landfills. To be permitted to accept municipal solid waste — or household garbage — SKB would need permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Mower County board, and the Lansing Township board.

Currently, most Austin garbage goes to the landfill in Clear Lake, Iowa.

While SKB officials say plans are still in the early stages, it’s not the first time SKB has discussed expansion plans with a local board. Last year before SKB bought Veit, company leaders went before the county board to ask the county to consider a landfill and solid waste ordinance. But that request was withdrawn around the time it finalized the deal to buy Veit.

The county board meets in the basement of the Mower County Government Center, 201 First St. NE. The meeting opens with a department report from Recorder Jill Cordes at 8:30 a.m.

The discussion on the landfill ordinance is scheduled for around 9:15 a.m.