By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
GROVE CITY AREA —
Once again Tri-County Landfill Inc.’s quest for a permit to reopen a landfill outside Grove City was rejected by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
In issuing its ruling on Thursday, the state agency said the rejection was due to a combination of the company’s compliance history and that waste at the site would be piled four times higher than allowed by local zoning laws.
After reviewing the compliance history of Tri-County and its affiliated companies, DEP said it saw problems. Tri-County is one of several subsidiary companies of Vogel Holdings Inc. of Mars, Butler County, that are engaged in the waste management business.
This review identified a history of non-compliance for these related companies, documented in inspection records from 2003 to 2013, DEP said in a news release. The Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act authorizes DEP to deny a permit if it finds that a principal of the applicant corporation was a principal of another corporation that committed past violations of the act.
“Environmental compliance should serve as the cornerstone of every company’s corporate philosophy seeking to do business in Pennsylvania,’’ Kelly Burch, director of DEP’s Northwest Regional Office said in the release.
Further, Tri-County’s application for the permit didn’t pass muster when it came to local zoning ordinances.
Tri-County’s permit application proposed a finished height of 160 feet for the landfill. However, zoning restrictions in Liberty and Pine townships where the landfill is located limit the height of structures to 40 feet. These restrictions have been held by the Mercer Court of Common Pleas to apply to the landfill, DEP noted.
In 2000, the state legislature passed amendments to the Municipalities Planning Code that require DEP to consider local zoning in permitting actions under certain circumstances.
Tri-County submitted its most recent permit application for the construction and operation of a landfill on Aug. 23, 2004. The company previously operated a landfill at the site but it was closed in 1990. The company currently operates a municipal waste transfer station at the site.
A Tri-County official didn’t immediately return a call Thursday afternoon.
This has been the latest in a series of attempts by Tri-County to reopen the landfill which has failed to get the necessary permits. Local residents and community leaders have been adamantly opposed to the landfill’s reopening with DEP public meetings on the permitting being attended by 100 or so in the community.
Among the complaints registered by residents was the site is too close to homes and businesses, making it a hazard to the senses, health, safety and economics of the area and to property values.
The state has denied several applications for Tri-County to expand the landfill since 1976. Since the 1990 shutdown, the DEP has allowed the company to use the property as a waste transfer station.
Tri-County has continued appealing to the DEP to reopen the landfill, with the Vogels reportedly spending $4 million to $5 million on the endeavor.