Tri-County Landfill Request for Local Zoning Decision Leads DEP to Resume Review of Permit Applications

MEADVILLE — The Department of Environmental Protection has resumed its review of Tri-County Landfill’s air and industrial wastewater discharge permit applications while the company continues its efforts to resolve local zoning issues in Pine and Liberty townships, Mercer County.

Pine Township requested Tri-County Landfill LLC to apply for a local zoning variance in 2004, but the required comprehensive plan was not in place, which prevented DEP from considering land use consistency. In 2005, Pine Township and Mercer County enacted comprehensive land use plans and the township is now using the approved plans as the basis for its review.

When Tri-County notified Pine Township in 2009 that it had submitted the air and industrial wastewater discharge permit applications, the township again informed DEP that local zoning conflicts still existed.

In response to the dispute, DEP suspended its review of those permits applications in May 2010 as part of the department’s policy to honor local government’s control over land use. Following the permit suspension, Tri-County applied for zoning approvals in both Pine Township and Liberty Township. 
 
In Liberty Township, a conditional use approval is required for the proposed landfill.  Several local hearings have taken place.

DEP understands decisions from both townships are expected later this year. The department has lifted its permit suspension because the company appears to be diligently pursuing these land use approvals.  

Both outstanding permit applications pertain to by-products produced when landfill waste decomposes. The air plan approval is required to manage methane gas and the water discharge permit is necessary to manage leachate from the site.

DEP received a solid waste permit application pertaining to the new proposed landfill on Aug. 23, 2004.  It initially denied the application after completing the environmental assessment, also known as benefits/harms analysis. The department determined that Tri-County had not adequately planned to minimize the potential for birds to strike airplanes using a nearby airport.

Tri-County appealed that denial and subsequently provided supplemental information that led DEP to reverse its decision in 2008, approve the environmental assessment and move on to the technical review.

DEP has finished its review of the solid waste permit application for the landfill and a decision will not be made until the department completes its review of the other permit applications in accordance with the department’s permit coordination policy. DEP will consider the zoning status of Tri-County’s property during the final phase of its review.

For more information on waste management regulations, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: waste management.

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