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ANR and Moretown Landfill reach settlement agreement

Vermont Environmental Court is holding a status conference today, July 11, at 1 p.m. to discuss a proposed settlement between the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Moretown Landfill.

In April, the state environmental court granted Moretown Landfill a 90-day extension to continue operating as it considered the landfill's appeal of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources' (ANR) decision not to recertify the permit for two of its trash cells. That 90-day extension was to end with the court's ruling on the case, which had been due on Monday, July 15.

A July 9 letter from the office of the Vermont attorney general informed Environmental Court Judge Thomas Walsh of the proposed settlement. The letter was signed by attorneys for Moretown Landfill as well as the Vermont attorney general's office.

"The state and Moretown Landfill Inc. write to update the court on the status of settlement negotiations. The state and Moretown have reached agreement on the terms of a Consent Order, with the exception of four maps that are proposed to be attached to the Consent Order as exhibits. The maps present a single remaining issue, which the parties will attempt to work out tomorrow," the letter from Nicholas Persampieri, assistant attorney general, environmental protection division and counsel for the Agency of Natural Resources, explained.

Persampieri said that the state and the landfill would present their proposed settlement to the court for the court's consent.

On March 14, the ANR denied the landfill's renewal application to recertify Cell 3. The ANR accepted and reviewed over 200 public comments about the landfill before issuing its decision. That decision required the landfill to stop collecting garbage on April 15. The renewal application had been under review for four years.

While some who live near the landfill have complained strenuously about the landfill's failure to control noxious smells, others, including the town of Moretown, have pointed out that the landfill has made significant progress in controlling odors. The town of Moretown has received upwards of $500,000 annually in tipping fees from the landfill.

The landfill announced it would cease taking trash from the public on April 1 and would continue to accept trash from commercial haulers until April 15. The landfill owners appealed that decision to Vermont Environmental Court and asked for a stay. The court granted a 90-day stay, allowing the landfill to accept trash until July 15, which gave the landfill owners the opportunity to seek a formal stay.

Terms of the proposed settlement are not yet available. If the ANR and landfill agree that the Route 2 facility can certify its cells, the 30-year process of closing the facility may be postponed.

Moretown Landfill can also still apply for a permit to construct a new trash cell (Cell 4), a process the landfill began last year but put on hold to focus on recertifying its existing cells.

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