Landfill Offers to Close Early for Trash Mountains
DUMFRIES, Va. – There could soon be mountains in Dumfries where there once was none.
Potomac Landfill owner Sandy Crippen and attorney John H. Foote on Tuesday are expected offer a deal the Dumfries Town Council: The landfill will halt its outward expansion in exchange for being able to grow up.
The landfill sits adjacent to Interstate 95 accepts used construction materials like concrete, wood, rubble and other waste, and then recycles some of them for a profit. The debris is stored in piles as high as 195-feet above sea level, and the landfill sits on 58 acres of land in Dumfries.
If approved, the landfill will keep the 39 acres it currently sits on now, but will build debris piles as high as 310 feet. In exchange, the landfill will agree to close within 15 years instead of a projected 25 to 30 years at current fill rates, according to landfill officials.
Neighbors who live behind the landfill in Dumfries’ Tripoli Heights neighborhood don’t like the idea of “trash mountains.”
“There wasn’t a mountain here when I moved. I came to live in a little country town and I still want it to be a country town,” said Peggy Waggy of Tripoli Boulevard.
Waggy serves on the Town Planning Commission and lives with her 92-year-old mother, Sue May, in a house Waggy bought in 1987 – three years after the landfill was built. May uses an oxygen tank to breath, and she and Waggy complain of dust from the landfill, and both said they have developed respiratory diseases including COPD and Emphysema. Neither of the women smokes.
Last fall, after drenching rains form Tropical Storm Lee flooded some portions of the area, sheetrock at the landfill began to omit an odor so foul many called 911 for help. The landfill cleaned up the wet sheetrock, and pumped the storm water runoff that brought the smell into the town back up into the landfill. The smell is now gone, but the landfill is a neighbor Waggy would still rather not have.
“They’re not good neighbors. Only way they say they’re good neighbors is because they give donations. People come looking for a donation and they get it,” said Waggy.
Landfill owner Sandy Crippen gives back to the community with donations to various charities. Especially close to the former elementary school teacher’s heart is ChildHelp, which provides assistance for abused children.
But the landfill also donated $4,000 to Dumfries Councilwoman Kristen Forrester’s political action campaign, Forrester PAC, according to the Virginia Public Access Project which tracks political money in Virginia. Waggy said Forrester should excuse herself from voting when the landfill issue comes before Town Council.
“It’s a conflict of interest. [Forrester] doesn’t have a moral or legal responsibly not to vote on this, but my conscious wouldn’t allow me to vote if it were me,” said Waggy.
Funds from Forrester PAC are used to promote small government and to get conservative candidates elected to office, and Forrester in an email said no one has ever asked her personally to excuse herself from any vote.
“I’m a responsible councilmember and will not take kindly to any suggestion that my vote could be purchased. My reputation on council stands for itself,” stated Forrester.
Forrester added she is working to get better informed about the landfill issue, and it’s unclear if she’ll vote on the matter.
The landfill will grow no matter what
No matter how the Council votes, the landfill will continue to expand. Crippen and Foote say an upward expansion would not only will bring a sooner closing date for the debris yard but it will also mean 19 unused acres that are now a part of the landfill land footprint would be made available for the town to rezone for development.
The land could be used for homes, office buildings, or shopping without any restoration land reclamation work needed, and landfill officials.
The Dumfries Town Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall on Main Street.