FAYETTEVILLE — Waste Management plans to expand the landfill in Tontitown by 72 acres in the next five years.
Boston Mountain Regional Solid Waste Management District plans a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday about the proposed expansion of the Eco-Vista Landfill in Tontitown. The meeting will be at the Har-Ber High School Cafeteria at 300 Jones Road in Springdale.
Source: Staff report
“The region is growing and growing, and we are having to expand schools and highways and water systems and you name it,” said George Wheatley, company spokesman. “This is a part that has to be expanded to keep up with the growth in Northwest Arkansas.”
Eco-Vista Landfill, off Arbor Acres Road, was called the Tontitown Landfill until 2008. The landfill is the only one in Northwest Arkansas that can accept construction and household waste, Wheatley said.
Most cities in Washington and Madison counties and some in Carroll and Benton counties use the landfill, Wheatley said. The landfill was last expanded about 10 years ago, he said.
Northwest Arkansas’ population and construction is booming, maybe faster than 10 years ago, before the Great Recession, said Jeff Hawkins, Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission executive director.
About 498,000 people lived in Benton, Washington, Madison and Carroll counties as of July 1, 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The four-county area has grown about 16 percent since 2010 when the population was about 467,500, according to the bureau.
That means more waste than ever is coming into the landfill, Wheatley said. The landfill took an average of 1,200 tons of waste per day in 1999, compared to 2,000 tons per day now, he said. It gets about 62,000 tons per year, which fills up to 170,000 cubic yards of landfill space, just in construction and demolition waste, said David Conrad, Waste Management engineering manager in email.
If approved, Waste Management will add 12 acres to handle construction waste and about 60 acres, in two phases, for household waste, according to preliminary maps Wheatley provided. Waste Management uses 109 acres of the 609 acres it owns.
The expansion will remain inside current property borders, Wheatley said.
The 12 acres will allow the company to bury 1.2 million cubic yards more construction waste, according to records from the Boston Mountain Regional Solid Waste Management District. As of Jan. 1, the landfill had 955,000 cubic yards of space available. The original permit was for 2.9 million cubic yards, Conrad said.
The district board, made of cities in Washington and Madison counties and both counties, must decide on the need for the expansion before the company can apply with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.
The landfill has about five years before it is at capacity, Wheatley said. The proposed expansion would add about 25 years to that lifespan, Tontitown Mayor Paul Colvin said.
How to handle that waste and the landfill to maintain area growth is up to city and county leaders, Hawkins said.
“That [landfill] being the only one in the two-county area — there has to be an expansion or an alternative way to get rid of waste,” Hawkins said.
Some cities, including Fayetteville, are trying to find ways of reducing waste. The City Council adopted a plan last year to reduce or recycle the city’s waste by 40 percent by 2027.
No one has opposed the landfill expansion, but the project is just beginning, officials said.
“It’s kind of in the initial phases of this deal,” Colvin said. “I’m sure there have got to be several bugs ironed out before they get total approval on it.”
No documents have been submitted yet to the state environmental agency, a spokeswoman said in email.
Tontitown planners are working with Waste Management to rezone property, and Tontitown aldermen plan to tour the landfill Monday, Colvin said. The property is currently zoned for manufactured homes because it was annexed and was not originally part of the city’s comprehensive land-use plan, Colvin said.
Meanwhile, the public comment period opened April 4 and ends May 3.
Waste Management officials are expected to attend a public hearing Wednesday and answer questions, said Robyn Reed, waste district director.
After that, the district’s board will decide whether to grant the certification Waste Management needs for its ADEQ application, Reed said.
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