To the Editor:
As the project proposer, we have made every effort to have a factual “open-book” proposal which takes into consideration input from the city, local businesses, and the residents. Unfortunately, a few individuals still continue to misrepresent the project with non-factual information in an attempt to move forward their personal agendas. The facts of the project are as follows:
Fact 1 – The landfill has been a legal, permitted use within the city since 1971 when it was permitted as a 3,500,000 yard sanitary (garbage) landfill. The landfill is specifically allowed in the 2009 City Zoning Code and is fully consistent with the 2007 Comprehensive Plan. The landfill has been approved by the MPCA, Carlton County, and the City Planning Commission.
Fact 2 – Landfills are relied upon by every resident of the city on a daily basis and provide a necessary service for our homes, businesses, and industries. They do not prohibit or inhibit development of the surrounding area but rather encourage development. They are located within city limits near schools, residential homes, parks, restaurants, and commercial development and are situated in close proximity to the population centers they service.
Fact 3 – Landfills benefit the community by providing a necessary service to the city and local industry. Affordable disposal and recycling is an incentive for existing and future industry to locate within the city. This facility will serve, among others, the top eight employers within the city and provide eight full-time, local jobs at union scale wages which are enough to support a family. The host fees paid to the city can be used for the general fund and for future end-use planning and development. Without the landfill, these planning and development costs would fall on the city and tax payers when cities continue to struggle with cuts to local government aid.
Fact 4 – The 59 acres occupied by the landfill, only 5.2 percent of the city’s industrial land supply, will not have any adverse affect on the city’s future development opportunities. The existing industrial land supply in Cloquet is 5.5 times the demand for all of Carlton County through 2030. Clearly, the use of 5.2 percent of the land will not preclude development within the city.
Fact 5 – The 3.5 million-yard landfill is not “the largest industrial landfill in northern Minnesota.” The largest landfill in Minnesota is 46 million yards with others at 25 million yards, 18 million yards, etc. The regional landfills include the Canyon landfill which is 5.7 million yards, St. Louis County landfill at 4.2 million yards, and the C&D landfill in Gary at 3 million yards.
Fact 6 – Odor and air quality will not be an issue due to the operational requirements and the type of waste accepted at the facility. In fact, as a condition of approval from the city, litter, odor, dust and noise shall not become a public nuisance or the city approval may be revoked.
In summary, the landfill will not prohibit or discourage development and will in fact provide several benefits to the city, local businesses, and residents. These landfills are almost always located within city limits and the communities which they service. Please consider the facts of the proposal before forming an opinion on the project.
Bill Keegan, P.E.