Move slowly on landfill expansion

Over the past year, the Minot City Council has demonstrated a deft hand at speedily addressing important issues in the city, including issues that have lingered for years.

When it comes to landfill expansion, the city should move slowly, complete a comprehensive financial analysis of the current proposed expansion, and carefully study if the plan is the best possible option.

Minot’s Planning Commission voted 8-2 Monday to reject the Minot Public Works Department’s proposal to extend the landfill to the south and east of its current location. The city council will hear the item next week. The rejection was based on complaints of neighbors based on potential impact on their properties, as well as questions about whether or not the proposal makes the most financial sense.

There seems to be plenty of support for a comprehensive financial analysis, so this just makes solid sense. There is no immediate rush; even authorities acknowledge the numbers could be better studied and there is time to do it. Minot is not in financial condition to move forward with the expansion if there is a practical, less costly alternative. Let’s see the numbers.

But then there is the NIMBY effect (“Not in my back yard”), which is another issue entirely. The hundred-plus property owners who would be affected by the expansion certainly should be heard, they have legal and ethical standing and it is a shameful oversight if they were somehow not considered enough when this plan was made.

That said, a landfill is always going to face NIMBY opposition, just as certain other infrastructure projects face opposition from adjacent property owners. And yet, this infrastructure is essential for the community. The more remote a location, the more expensive the process. Create additional sites separate of the current landfill, it only makes sense that the cost would be greater. Plus, the reality is that no matter how remote a location, there will always be neighbors displeased with the plan.

Cooler, realistic heads should prevail on this issue. First should come a comprehensive financial analysis. A lively debate will then follow, as it should. An eventual decision will then be buoyed by the transparency and depth of the process. It only seems fair.