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Mat-Su Assembly expands trash definition to cover planned monofill

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA _ The Mat-Su Borough Assembly this week added shredded waste to the list of things that constitute trash to make sure an Anchorage company gets a permit before dumping ground-up construction and demolition debris near Palmer.

The Assembly, in a 4-3 vote Tuesday evening, amended the borough junk and trash code to include pulverized, shredded or broken material --the type of waste that Central Monofill Services hopes to dispose of at a site just west of Palmer.

Sponsor Matthew Beck, who represents the Palmer area on the Assembly, said the change targeted the company that "was declaring that, because of the way the code was written, a conditional-use permit was not needed to dump shredded waste."

That company that sorts and sells debris from an Anchorage industrial property wants to truck the unmarketable debris to a 35-acre corner of an old gravel pit west of Palmer along the Glenn Highway. The borough planning commission last year denied Central's request for a conditional-use permit needed to start using the site, citing concerns about groundwater protection and litter. A borough code compliance officer earlier in the year had cited Central for dumping without a permit and trash.

When the company appealed the citations, the borough Board of Appeals found that the shredded waste was not trash as defined by a "couple of ordinances," borough attorney Nick Spiropoulos told the Assembly on Tuesday. But the board did find that the company would still need a permit.

Adding the new language resolves that inconsistency, he said.

During both the court case and the appeal, Central representatives argued that the material they'd brought to the site--tires, wood, building materials--wasn't trash as defined by borough code, planning officials say.

Targeting one company with a code change, however, didn't sit well with Assembly member Ron Arvin.

"It's a little unsettling," Arvin said Tuesday. "We're going down the path to take action against a specific operator in a specific part of the borough."

He added the changes don't specifically address groundwater issues, and wondered if the amendment will make it harder for recycling to occur.

Spiropoulos said the change "is more to add clarification in the future for all operators."

Planner Alex Strawn told the Assembly that the Valley's recycling center doesn't require a conditional-use permit and doesn't fall under the junk and trash ordinance.

Central in mid-January filed a new application for a conditional-use permit. The borough replied with a letter asking for more information, Strawn said Thursday. The borough so far has received only an email that the company is still working on the request, he said.

Central co-owner Shane Durand did not respond to a message left on his voice mail Thursday. Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or (907) 352-6705.


By ZAZ HOLLANDER
zhollander@adn.com