Public interest settlement emphasizes open and honest government
PALE obtains guarantee of at least $1,000,000 a year for Manor Township from the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority
Deed restrictions & court order strengthen 1986 Landfill Expansion Ban
Authority agrees only to expand vertically; Barley properties will never be used for landfilling, only for soil, and will be preserved as open space
Property values are protected and environmental protections put into place
After 16 months of determined citizen action and on the eve of a scheduled trial, PALE and the county waste authority reached a historic settlement to the Barley Landfill controversy. PALE insisted that any settlement had to address the issue of open and honest government as well as benefit the public at large. PALE was able to achieve both in an unprecedented agreement that will become a binding Court Order if approved by Judge Allison.
As a result of PALE's efforts, the Authority has agreed to comply with all legal requirements under the Sunshine Act, hold at least one special meeting in Manor Township every year, and provide extensive reports and documents about the Authority's operation to the public. In addition, PALE will establish a non-profit foundation for promoting open and accountable government throughout Lancaster County. The Authority has agreed to make an initial $100,000 contribution to the foundation.
Recognizing the current and future effect that hosting a landfill has on a municipality, PALE also demanded (and the Authority agreed) to increase the host fees paid to Manor Township by the Authority by over $500,000 each year. Currently Manor Township receives approximately $500,000 a year from the Authority; but as a direct result of PALE's efforts, the Township is now guaranteed to receive at least $1,000,000 a year from the Authority, a 100% increase, for as long as the Authority continues to operate a landfill in Manor Township. This new revenue will help alleviate taxes and secure financial resources for all of the citizens of Manor Township for generations to come.
PALE has significantly strengthened and expanded the Township's 1986 zoning condition that prohibits any future landfill expansion. The Authority has now agreed to never expand or construct a new landfill in Manor Township; it will only use the existing landfills at Frey Farm and Creswell. As an Order of Lancaster County Court, this Decree expands the effectiveness of the1986 compromise, and adds legal weight to its terms.
PALE supports the Authority's recent proposal for reusing existing landfill space instead of expanding or creating a new landfill. PALE believes that with a completely open process that allows for public input and debate, the County can develop creative and environmentally friendly approaches for disposing of the County's solid waste for years to come.
The Authority has agreed with PALE that the Barley tracts should be preserved as open space and as a nature preserve. PALE has recognized that the Barley tracts also could be used for subsoil when the Authority starts reusing the Creswell landfill, thereby saving millions of dollars of public funds and eliminating additional truck traffic. The Authority will accordingly proceed to purchase one-half of the Barley tracts, but has agreed that after removing the subsoil from a portion of those tracts the land will be permanently preserved in its natural state and protected by easements to the Lancaster County Conservancy. Deed restrictions insure that the tracts can never be used for landfilling. PALE is extremely pleased it was able to save these lands from being used as a landfill and instead preserve them for future generations to enjoy.
PALE also provided security to neighbors directly affected by the Authority's landfill activities in the Creswell area by preserving property values and obtaining compensation for immediate losses in property values. In addition, PALE addressed concerns about well water and other environmental concerns by including provisions to test well water and provide drinking water to those who live in the immediate vicinity of the landfill.
PALE filed our lawsuits in an attempt to correct a flawed government process. We sought to block a huge new proposed landfill expansion that would have unfairly condemned the homes of nine families and betrayed an entire community that was never informed about the expansion until it was too late. Through this resolution, PALE has not only helped address the importance of open and accountable government, but has reached an extremely important public interest settlement that will benefit our County, our Township, and our neighborhood. PALE believes the Authority has proceeded in good faith to reach this historic agreement and PALE looks forward to developing a future partnership with the Authority.
"Host fees" that LCSWMA pays to Manor Township will more than double (increase at least 100%), to one million dollars each year at current volume levels.
The 1986 Manor Township Zoning Hearing Board ruling, prohibiting landfill expansion, is now affirmed as a formal LCSWMA commitment. That important 1986 compromise will be strengthened and expanded by its new status as an Order of Lancaster County Court.
LCSWMA will contribute $100,000 to fund a new non-profit foundation that PALE will create to promote environmental protection, citizen involvement, and open government. The activities of this foundation will be entirely charitable and will not provide any personal financial benefit to PALE members.
LCSWMA is accepting tough deed restrictions that prohibit landfilling on all of its new Barley acreage. Additional deed restrictions prohibit soil extraction mining on those parcels closest to occupied homes. These deed restrictions are a covenant "running with the land," and are enforceable by both Manor Township and by LCSWMA's neighbors.
Those soil excavation activities which are to be permitted on certain portions of LCSWMA's Barley acreage are limited, defined and constrained.
By next year substantial buffer plantings must begin to establish lines of evergreen or deciduous tree lines that will screen nearby residents and minimize dust.
After soil mining is completed, LCSWMA's Barley acreage must be restored, landscaped and reforested to its natural state. Preservation easements will preserve the land as open space for passive public recreation.
No explosives or blasting will be permitted during soil excavation, and LCSWMA will take steps to minimize dust blowing onto adjoining properties.
Real estate values in our community are protected by LCSWMA's guarantee that residents near the landfill will be able to sell their homes for at least 100% of fair market value.
LCSWMA will pay cash compensation to 25 families who live near the landfill, for anticipated loss of value to their homes. These payments are based on a percentage of assessed property values, and are being paid to families that the authority has designated as being affected by its operations. Five families whose homes had been secretly condemned in the Barley Landfill controversy will receive an additional $25,000 that represents part of the compensation which was offered to them by LCSWMA in November 2000. Total compensation payments range from a low of $10,905 to a high of $81,199.
LCSWMA will pay for a program to regularly test residential well water near the landfill. The authority will also pay for delivery of spring water to nearby residents who request it.
To facilitate the public scrutiny that is vital for open and honest government, LCSWMA will increase public access to its documents, information, and records. The authority agrees to comply with all provisions of Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act. LCSWMA officials will come to Manor Township at least once a year for a public presentation of the authority's operations and plans.
LCSWMA will reimburse all of the legal expenses that PALE has incurred as we have fought for open and honest government in the Barley Landfill controversy, an amount of approximately $115,000.
The Turkey Hill Trail will be extended at LCSWMA's expense to take advantage of the new open recreational space that this agreement provides for our community.