Important chance to voice your opinion tonight

Tonight’s public meeting on the subject of plans for expansion of the City of Minot’s landfill – or perhaps development of a new one farther from the city proper – is an important one and all stakeholders are encouraged to participate and voice their opinions.

The city council had decided to conduct a study after receiving blowback from those living near the current landfill and planned site for expansion. Much of the $130,000 to $150,000 budgeted to pay consulting firm CPS for permitting work on the expansion was redirected toward site analysis and facilitation of a focus group. The focus group included representatives of the landfill neighborhood, Trinity Health, First District Health Unit, Ward County Planning, Surrey and Burlington, a private waste company and the general public. The focus group was charged with expressing various concerns and factors related to the potential plans, but it is unclear how their input was incorporated into the study.

The study compares the cost and requirements to expand the current site relative to two conceivable sites in the county but in less developed areas. In this case, conceivable means in regulatory terms – not in the sense that the city has spoken to property owners. Because of the heavy federal regulation of landfills, even in our part of the country, finding eligible property is not an easy thing to do. While two sites outside the city are compared in the presentation tonight, in principle the debate boils down largely to timing. Expanding the current site costs less, doesn’t entail an increase in fees and puts off for half a century the need to address the landfill issue again. At that time, it will be necessary to find another site because the availability of more adjacent property in southwest Minot is unlikely.

Meanwhile, it will cost more and will increase garbage fees to develop a new site – although that site, with potential for expansion in a less populous rural area – could offer as much as twice the service time. It isn’t a question of if Minot eventually has to develop a new landfill; it is a matter of when. It is also a matter of paying less for it now or today’s children paying considerably more for it when they are considering retirement.

Which is preferable? What about other factors like increased recycling; the potential of private sector competition; the wisdom of expanding a landfill in what has been perceived as highly desirable southwest Minot property that is also in close proximity to the new healthcare campus?

Tonight is your opportunity to speak up. Input from the public will be considered in the final recommendation that will go to the Minot City Council during its committee of the whole meeting at the end of October. In addition to making comments at Thursday’s meeting, the public can submit comments through a portal to be established on the city website at following the meeting.

Tonight’s public meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Minot Municipal Auditorium, Room 301.