Wednesday, April 07, 2010

MDC Votes To Expand Southside Landfill

Decatur Township residents were rebuffed today by the Metropolitan Development Commission, which granted zoning approval to Southside Landfill to expand its operations along White River. According to the comprehensive plan, the land could only be used for light industrial use. Homeowners had been told the land would be developed as a golf course. Instead, they're getting a smelly landfill that has already caused property values in the area to decline.

Councilor Robert Cockrum represents the affected residents. He sided with the landfill's owners. The MDC voted 5-3 in favor of the zoning variance. Remonstrators pointed out to the Commission numerous misrepresentations made by the Petitioner's attorney, Mary Solada, a local zoning attorney known for her ruthlessness in pursuing zoning law changes. The case points up the total disregard the unelected MDC members have towards the comprehensive plan that is supposed to protect landowners from such unintended uses of their property.


Downtown Indy said...

And what better place for a landfill than along a river?

Jon E. Easter said...

I believe you are simplifying the case a bit here. I am familiar with this case, and it's been going on for months with neighborhood input.

The Decatur Township Civic Council took up the contentious issue and voted not to oppose the petition after hearing the case. It was a one vote difference in the final vote, but, nevertheless, it was a position.

There are a number of commitments that make the situation (while not ideal) better for neighbors. The land as it sat before this case could have been turned into a gravel pit. We've all see the high mounds of dirt along the southside of 465. That would have been possible with this land.

Instead, now native trees will be preserved, a landscaping berm has been put in with tall trees on top to shield landfill operations from the neighbors along with a slew of other commitments to make drainage better.

Again, it sucks to live across from a landfill, and I am still personally opposed to the expansion of the operations, but, it could have been worse.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The commitments made by the petitioners were empty promises if you had listened to today's testimony. It will not impact flooding as claimed by the petitioners. Yes, the landfill is being construced in a flood plain. Trees have already been mowed down by the petitioners in advance based on their belief they had approval to build a landfill. Wildlife has been impacted. Solada actually had the nerve to tell people they should be happy because in a hundred years, they wouldn't have to worry about the area being used to mine gravel. That's not to mention the landfill owner's track record on past violations. The use violates the comprehensive plan. Obviously, Mr. Easter, you don't understand the reason we have a comprehensive plan. Let them build a landfill next to your home if that's how you feel.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

The city has always disregarded the comprehensive plan when there's some political gain to be made.

This is just the latest example.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Gary - I'm going to disagree with you on a couple of counts. Just for complete disclosure, I Chair the Land Use Committee of the Decatur Township Civic Council, which, as Jon stated, took a position of 'not oppose' on the rezoning petition.

The berm will indeed protect the neighborhood, there really is no doubt in my mind on that point. There will be a one-way gate on a culvert that will close should the White River get as high as the abutting street. The neighborhood will drain to the White River as long as the White River isn't already so high that it would be flooding the neighborhood anyway. The berm will be at least 3 feet above the 100 year flood elevation of the river. There are two agricultural levees, one in disrepair, at the river's edge - both several feet below the 100 year flood elevation.

I think I understand the comprehensive plan and I am fully aware of the lack of respect it gets in zoning matters. And, you are correct that it calls for a Park with a secondary recommendation for light industrial. Special uses, which the landfill zoning asked for, are not included as options within the comprehensive plan and are decided parcel by parcel through the zoning process; just like yesterday. So, the comprehensive plan is not entirely relevant in this instance. Also, in this particular case there is another ingredient that comes into play. And that is the current zoning allows mining. The current zoning was obtained long ago and has no restrictions on it. So, the landfill could have gone in tomorrow and done all the mining it wanted, piled the dirt and gravel as high as it wanted, torn down all the trees it wanted, blasted to loosen the gravel, and done so without recourse or remedy for the neighborhood.

There is no doubt that this neighborhood, and this area in general, carry a large burden so that the entire Central Indiana region can have cheaper gravel, reliable disposal of trash, and a nearby airport. I think they did a very good job of presenting their arguments yesterday. But, even then, they said they would accept a compromise of a golf course - so the landfill expansion itself wasn't totally out of the range of acceptable to the neighborhood.

Gary R. Welsh said...

If I had to choose between mining gravel and a landfill, there is no question I would choose the gravel mining over the landfill. My parents live in a subdivision that was reclaimed from a gravel operation. You would never know that it had once been mined. Nobody is going to build or do anything in that area for at least a hundred years. You may as well bulldoze the houses in that area. Nobody in their right mind would buy one.

Concerned Citizen said...

I agree with Advance Indiana.
- Why would you put a landfill in a flood zone ????
- How can you grant zoning to property that they do not own??
- They totally disreggarded the Comprehensive Plan.
- They ignored the Landfill has already contaminated the ground (and ground water)
- A hill will not stop a flood (from White River)

So, Had Enough Indy - You think a landfill is similar to a golf course??
They made a terrible decision and now the neighborhood, the environment, the wildlife all will suffer. It is a matter of WHEN, not if.

Citizen Kane said...

Yes, there is no doubt that a landfill should never be constructed in a floodplain. But guess where the relatively cheap land is - in the floodplain. Of course, the other problem that no one addressed is that the subdivision, particularly with wells and septic systems should not have been built in the floodplain either.

Downtown Indy said...

I think they need to dynamite some of the mined-out sections of the gravel pit under the landfill to drop 'Mt Trashy' a few hundred feet down. Then continue the lanffill in situ instead of starting a new area across the river.

Incidentally, anyone seen any plans for building a bridge across White River, so the trucks can access it? I have this nagging feeling that may be the next surprise.

Concerned Citizen said...

To Citizen Kane - The subdivision was built in the early 60's, beautiful brick homes.
They were put on the flood zone many years after the fact.
The neighborhood has united many times to sand bag and work on the levy, (many thanks to Dale Best).
The City does not hold Martin Marietta, Hansen, or Southside Landfill accountable.
Too much power and money!
We need to vote out the School Board, Decatur Civic Council, and Bob Behning. They have sold the residents out.
Many thanks to Senator Michael Young for doing the right thing - supporting against the rezoning.