Dunmore Borough Counci Hearing On Keystone Sanitary Landfill Should Go Ahead

May 4, 2019

Dunmore Borough Council likely will still host a public hearing on a zoning amendment that would benefit the Keystone Sanitary Landfill, despite a borough planning commission recommendation to deny the amendment, the borough solicitor said Friday.

The planning commission voted unanimously Thursday to reject recommending Keystone’s zoning amendment request, mainly because no one from the landfill showed up to defend it.

Borough solicitor Thomas Cummings said he will tell council it must still act because the planning commission’s decision is only a recommendation.

During Thursday’s meeting, planning commission solicitor Mark Conway said Keystone “may have jeopardized their right to move it (the request) forward” by failing to show up for the planning commission hearing.

Cummings said he wants to learn more about Conway’s opinion but still thinks council must act. He will recommend going ahead with a public hearing, set for May 15 at 7 p.m. at the Dunmore Community Center, 1440 Monroe Ave.

The landfill wants the borough zoning ordinance amended to specifically say landfills aren’t structures, the key point of a legal dispute between Keystone and opponents of its expansion plans.

The zoning ordinance says structures in manufacturing districts like the one Keystone inhabits cannot be taller than 50 feet, but landfill lawyers argue the landfill isn’t a structure. The borough zoning board agreed with Keystone’s lawyers in October 2015. Six landfill neighbors and Friends of Lackawanna, the main opposition group, appealed the ruling in Lackawanna County Court. They argue the landfill is a structure, but Senior Judge Leonard Zito disagreed and upheld the zoning board ruling.

The opponents appealed to Commonwealth Court. The proposed zoning amendment would bolster Keystone’s case and remove any future doubt about whether it’s a structure, but the landfill could win in court even without the amendment.

Keystone also still needs the state Department of Environmental Protection to approve its expansion. The landfill initially asked DEP to allow the burying of trash 165 feet higher in the expansion area than on existing permitted areas, but amended its application to eliminate the increased height.

Efforts to reach landfill lawyer Jeff Belardi were unsuccessful Friday.

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