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Special waste landfills considered at Dunn County public hearings

KILLDEER—Special waste landfills and safeguards were the overriding question in two public hearings concerning proposed amendments to Dunn County land ordinances at the Dunn County Planning and Zoning Board meeting on Tuesday night.

Joel Quanbeck, a planning consultant from Kadrmas Lee & Jackson, led the discussion.

Dunn County residents, board members and county commissioners expressed their views, debated and agreed on language in the drafts for the amendments prepared by Quanbeck.

The changes will be added to the drafts and will be revisited at the July meeting.

There were 15 proposed amendments on zoning, definitions, standards and requirements for the development and operation of special waste landfills in the county.

The planning and zoning board will propose an ordinance to the county commissioners for approval after another public hearing.

Residents expressed their concerns on almost all of the proposed amendments to the draft presented by Quanbeck — a list of issues that included radiation levels, dust control, aquifer construction, testing, hauling, location, weather and buffers for people, livestock and crops.

After the meeting, Quanbeck acknowledged that the thought of a special waste landfill is troubling to many residents, but he was hired as a planner by Dunn County eight years ago, and his job is to help prepare and plan for things like the byproducts of drilling.

"I have really enjoyed working with the people and leaders of Dunn County," Quanbeck said. "I appreciate the leadership they have shown in addressing things like a special waste landfill."

There is a real possibility that the state could approve this type of landfill even if there isn't an ordinance to permit them. Chairman Craig Pelton said the wake-up call came three years ago when a company tried to build a special waste landfill in the county.

"There was no adequate ordinance or permitting process at the time for the building of this type of landfill, and the board started the process to fix that," he said.

Most of the residents who attended the meeting had hoped there never would be a special waste landfill in the county.

"Our hope as a group was that we could prevent a landfill, but we're not stupid," JoAnn Marsh said. "We know that even if an ordinance was passed to prevent them, the state industrial commission could choose to ignore our ordinance and permit them and ignore our wishes. So we as a group, we want to be part of the process to ensure we have the best ordinance and safest landfill possible."

The group had a concern about the Black Mallard Disposal landfill, owned by the Green Group, which helped draft the ordinance for Mountrail County.

That ordinance has at times been referred to as a guide in the building of the Dunn County proposed ordinance, though allowing the company that is applying for the permit to have a hand in drafting the ordinance could lead to an ordinance that favors the company more than the residents of the county.

Those wishing to add comments or suggestions on the proposed ordinances can do so at the July Dunn County Zoning and Planning meeting and the final public hearing at the August meeting. Their recommendation will be presented to Dunn County Commissioners for additional public hearings before they vote to approve their recommendation.

Mining ordinance

Also discussed at the public hearing was the mining of sand, gravel, rock, stone, scoria and clay in Dunn County.

The four areas of discussion in the draft were applicability and covered activities, application requirements, standards and setbacks, and reclamation requirements. The majority of concerns from those in attendance focused on dust control and weed management. Some in the audience expressed their frustrations about the dust from existing mining pits and hauling trucks and the close proximity to their farms, livestock and homes.

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