A view of mountains in late autumn.
A view of mountains in late autumn.

North Country Alliance
for Balanced Change

Life Downwind of a Casella Dump

A group in New York has put up a map of odor complaints around the Casella operated Ontario County Landfill in the Finger Lakes. Casella is 16 years into a 25 year contract so this problem can’t credibly be blamed on prior operators.

One thing to notice about the map is that odor complaints can be seen in a heavy concentration in nearby Geneva, NY – which is roughly 5 miles away.

A map showing odor complaints surrounding the Ontario County landfill in New York
Ontario County Landfill smell map

The map can be viewed at ItStinks.org.

Drawing a 5 mile radius circle around the proposed landfill site in Dalton gives you the following image. Notice that, for example, this area covers most of downtown Littleton. This is an area where a revitalization project has been taking place over the past several years.

A map showing a circle with a 5 mile radius from the proposed landfill site in Dalton
The potential “smell zone”

Dalton needs your help!

Dalton Town Hall
Dalton Town Hall

The Select Board will soon be appointing 5 members to a Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) to carry out the duties of the Emergency Temporary Zoning Ordinances. The application deadline for this new ZBA is August 21 at noon. Letters of interest, background and experience are required, and this is open only to Dalton residents. Full details are available on the town website.


The Select Board needs an Administrative Assistant and the Planning Board needs a Secretary. Both positions require taking meeting minutes. Keeping accurate and detailed minutes of town board meetings is critical, as our neighbors in Bethlehem found in their court battles against Casella. This is a way to help the Town with a small investment of time and residency is not required for these part-time positions.

For more information, see the pages on the town website for the Select Board and Planning Board.

Special Town Meeting Results

NCABC Friends and Supporters,

Tonight the Town of Dalton adopted the provisions of RSA 674:24-29, Emergency Temporary Zoning. This means that Dalton has zoning through at least the March 2021 Town Meeting! This is an important victory for the Town and for the North Country.

To preserve this victory at the local level it is now time to work toward a permanent zoning ordinance so that Dalton can continue to have control of its future development. NCABC will help with this in any way we can. Thank you for your support!

Special Town Meeting

Tomorrow night, July 30 at 7 p.m. is the Special Town Meeting to deliberate and vote on Emergency Temporary Zoning in Dalton. Voting is by secret ballot, in person only. It will be conducted during a two hour period following the conclusion of the deliberations at the Dalton Municipal Building.

If this passes it will give the Town a critical tool to prevent a landfill from being built in Dalton. A landfill is something that would have destructive effects on the North Country for generations to come.

If you are registered to vote in Dalton, please be sure to attend and vote yes.

If you are not a Dalton voter, please contact your friends and acquaintances who are and encourage them to vote yes.

A road going over a bridge and up a hill. There is a sign next to the bridge that says 'State Line. Dalton New Hampshire'

Related post: What Emergency Zoning Means for Dalton

Emergency Temporary Zoning

Over the next two weeks, the town of Dalton will be having a Public Hearing and a Special Town Meeting concerning the adoption of the Emergency Temporary Zoning Ordinance outlined in state law. This hearing and the vote on the ordinance are a chance for townspeople to guide future development as they wish, making sure that business and industrial developments respect the character and beauty of our rural NH village.

Here are two key points to know about the zoning ordinance.

Forest Lake in Dalton

1) The emergency zoning is temporary.

If we vote YES at the Special Town Meeting on July 30th, the Emergency Temporary Zoning Ordinance will only be in effect until the 2021 Town Meeting. Dalton voters could craft a permanent zoning ordinance before then, but have no obligation to do so. If there is no further action on a zoning ordinance by the 2021 Town Meeting, the emergency zoning simply expires – in less than two years.

A bridge over the Connecticut River. A sign says "State Line/Dalton New Hampshire"

2) The emergency zoning lets Dalton decide how to grow.

All current homeowners, businesses, and land uses would be allowed to continue as they operate now – they would be “grandfathered in”. The Emergency Temporary Zoning Ordinance only applies to new land uses.

Restrictions on land uses listed in RSA 674:25-27 include the following:

“No business, commercial or industrial venture or use shall be permitted which could cause any undue hazard to health, safety, or property values or which is offensive to the public because of noise, vibration, excessive trafficunsanitary conditionsnoxious odor, smoke or other similar reason” 

RSA 674:27, I (bolding added for emphasis)

Enacting the Emergency Temporary Zoning Ordinance would give the Dalton voters a chance to carefully consider whether a landfill fits with the landscape and lifestyle of the town. It puts the choice in the hands of Dalton voters instead of the decision being made primarily by developers Casella.

Dalton Town Hall.

Make Your Voice Heard

There are two important dates coming up:

  1. July 23rd. This is the Public Hearing. Anyone can give brief (roughly 3 minute) comments about the Emergency Temporary Zoning Ordinance. This is your chance to stand up and voice your concerns as a member of town.
  2. July 30th. This is the Special Town Meeting. Only registered Dalton voters will be able to participate. If you are at all concerned about being able to control development in Dalton and being able to balance corporate interests with the town’s interests, please vote YES. Adopt the Emergency Temporary Zoning Ordinance so we can take the decision into our hands instead of having it forced on us.

The full text of RSA 674:24-29 is available here.

Forward Thinking: Waste Reduction

While preventing a landfill from being built in environmentally sensitive wetlands is our immediate concern, we should also be thinking about how to stop or reduce the need for landfills in general. Angela McShane recently wrote an article for the Littleton Coop’s newsletter The Radish about reducing waste from grocery shopping and meal prep. Excerpts of this are included here with the author’s permission, plus you can read the full article in the linked PDF below or on Issuu.

Reusable bags & jars

One of the things Angela discusses is how to avoid taking plastic bags home from the supermarket. The idea is simple – the less plastic bags you bring home, the less plastic bags you are sending to a landfill.

Whenever I leave the house by car, my bag of bags is in the back seat. I have a beautiful mesh bottom “last bag” from www.eqpdgear.com (pronounced “equipped.”) The mesh bottom allows crumbs to fall out which leaves me with less cleaning to do. My ‘last bag’ is filled with mesh produce bags (for produce and bulk items), chalkboard painted wooden clothespins (I bring chalk in a tin and write bulk PLU #s on the pins), tupperwares (prepared salads, meat,) glass jars (oils, soaps, vinegar, vanilla, honey, etc.) and two extra grocery bags. As long as I have my “bag of bags” with me, I’m free for that last minute run to the Littleton Coop, Home Depot or… any store!

Since I invested in reusable mesh produce bags and ‘last bag’ grocery bags, I’ve had a hard time taking single-use plastic bags from any store for any reason. It seems unnecessary and careless. The “last bag” I have from eqpdgear is rated to 90 lbs, so any heavy items I buy get loaded into that bag. My favorite produce bags are made by earthwise. The spare grocery bags are for the rest of my items. My bags rarely need to be washed, maybe every few months.

What to do with food waste

Another topic Angela addresses is how to reduce food waste at home – by composting!

There’s one more step to waste free shopping that really helps reduce the amount of waste going to a landfill. Do you compost at home yet? Composting at home is about as simple as it gets. And, once you have a finished batch, you can nourish your gardens and raised beds. It’s a wonderful cycle that I really enjoy seeing through. You need 4 bins.

To compost at home you need a one gallon and a ten gallon stainless steel compost bins for your kitchen counter and just outside the back door. Both can be found at Home Depot. The one gallon bucket is the bin to chuck all compostable materials from within the kitchen. Coffee grounds, food and veggie scraps, paper towels, melon rinds, leftovers, etc. Any food waste except for liquids and meat can go into the compost. The ten gallon stainless steel bucket serves as a mid-way station before you get to the tumblers in the backyard. Once the ten gallon bucket is filled, take it out back to the tumblers. Easy!

If we can reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, we reduce the need for new landfills. It’s a long-term goal worth pursuing while we continue to fight to preserve the natural resources of New Hampshire’s North Country.


Attachments

News Update 6/25/2019

Forest Lake Association

On June 22, 2019 the Forest Lake Association special meeting voted unanimously to oppose the proposed Casella landfill. Welcome aboard FLA!

Casella meeting with DES

On May 30, 2019 representatives from Casella and their contractors had a private meeting with DES and other state government officials to discuss their plans for a landfill in Dalton. The sign in sheet lists who was there. The plan shows 180 acres, some of it a stone’s throw from Forest Lake State Park. According to Casella’s data this includes the destruction of 18 acres of wetlands in the Ammonoosuc River watershed. We have not verified that this is a full accounting of the wetlands in the proposed dump area.

At the April 3, 2019 Dalton Planning Board meeting Casella engineer Joe Gay said that the Ingerson land was being evaluated for a 100 acre landfill. With an 80% increase in proposed acreage in under two months it is fair to ask: What is the real plan?


Attachments

Emergency Zoning – Update

The Dalton Select Board will be holding a public hearing on July 23, 2019, at 7:00 PM to discuss the Emergency Zoning ordinances (attached below, RSA 674:24-29). On July 30, 2019, at 7:00 PM, there will be a Special Town Meeting in Dalton to vote on enacting those provisions as zoning ordinances for the town. Anyone can participate in the public hearing (on the 23rd), but only Dalton residents may participate in the Special Town Meeting (on the 30th).

These ordinances would provide defense for the town against new constructions such as a landfill. A couple of relevant sections of the ordinances:

674:25 Districting Under Interim Zoning Ordinance

For the purpose of regulating the use of land and the location and construction of buildings, any town adopting the provisions of an interim zoning ordinance shall be considered as one district with the following regulations and restrictions:

I. It shall be a district of residential agricultural use only. Business, commercial and industrial uses are prohibited in this district except as hereinafter provided.

[…]

674:27 Commercial Exceptions Under Interim Zoning Ordinance.

 Business, commercial or industrial ventures other than those mentioned in RSA 674:25 or 674:26 may be given special exception by the board of adjustment upon submission and approval of a site plan; provided, however, that the following regulations and restrictions shall be observed:

I. No business, commercial or industrial venture or use shall be permitted which could cause any undue hazard to health, safety or property values or which is offensive to the public because of noise, vibration, excessive traffic, unsanitary conditions, noxious odor, smoke or other similar reason.

[…]

Get reminders when these meetings are coming up by marking that you are “Interested” on these event pages on Facebook:


Attachments

NCABC in the news

NCABC was featured in articles in the Coos County Democrat and the Littleton Courier this week. These articles outline our concerns regarding the proposed landfill in Dalton and quote group member Sarah Doucette.

You can read the articles on page A9 of the June 12, 2019 edition of the Littleton Courier and pages A1/A17 of the June 12, 2019 edition of the Coos County Democrat.

Emergency Temporary Zoning petition

On May 20, 2019 a petition was delivered to the Dalton Select Board seeking Emergency Temporary Zoning. The petition, signed by over 100 residents, calls for a Special Town Meeting to vote on whether the Emergency Temporary Zoning and Planning Ordinance found in RSA 674:24-29 should be adopted. The Emergency Zoning would be in effect until the March 2021 Town Meeting or a permanent zoning ordinance is adopted, if that comes sooner.