It took about five and a half hours, but the Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to deny a landfill zone change. And then applause broke out.
Waste Services of the Bluegrass, which owns the Central Kentucky Landfill, had applied to rezone about 180 acres of landfill-owned farmland to industrial. The reason? To extract minerals to be used as buffer area on the landfill which it hopes to expand.
More than 250 people showed up Thursday to voice concern about the proposed change.
“I’m here to urge you to follow the recommendations of the (planning and zoning) staff report and not allow Waste Services to rezone,” Sadieville resident Beth Emery said.
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Before the meeting, the planning and zoning staff had recommended that the zone change be denied, in part because it didn’t conform with Scott County’s comprehensive plan, a commonly used process that determines a community’s goals and aspirations in terms of community development.
The zone change application was the latest step in a lengthy effort by the company to expand the landfill, which receives trash from Scott County and 49 other counties, including Fayette.
In January, 2017, hundreds of people showed up at a public hearing on the proposed expansion. Waste Services of the Bluegrass wants to increase the waste disposal area to about 75.5 acres from its current area of 46.8 acres. The company also wants to increase the boundary surrounding the landfill from 102.8 acres to 602 acres.
Many of the concerns in that meeting included traffic safety on U.S. 25 — a 58-year-old Georgetown resident was killed in a crash with a garbage truck in September 2016 —and possible effects on wildlife.
After that meeting, zoning officials required that the landfill be rezoned before it can expand, putting the landfill expansion in limbo.
Waste Services appealed that decision, sending the issue to the Scott County Board of Adjustment. The board agreed with the planning commission in March. Waste Services of the Bluegrass then sued the board of adjustment in an attempt to overturn that decision. The lawsuit is pending.
This led Waste Services of the Bluegrass to comply with the Scott County Board of Adjustment’s decision that a rezoning hearing needed to be held before the landfill could expand.
Waste Services appealed to the planning commission Thursday to approve the zone change as the meeting approached its ending.
“It complies with the comprehensive plan,” said David Royse, a Lexington lawyer who represents Waste Services of the Bluegrass.
But the planning commission was not swayed, in part because of the overwhelming opposition.
“I’ve seen more people tonight than I’ve ever seen at any other Scott County meeting ever,” commissioner Mark Sulski said before he made the motion to deny the zone change.
Now, the planning commission’s recommendation will go to Scott County Fiscal Court for its consideration.