Landfill proposal on hold; Marion public election scuttled

Landfill considerations took another twist Monday with Marion City commissioners voting 2-0 to rescind last week’s resolution to hold a non-binding public election on whether to host a regional landfill.

Mayor Max Hayen and Commissioner Jim Crofoot took the action. Commissioner Larry Reiswig was gone because of a family death.

The city meeting room was again filled to overflowing with nearly 50 people attending.

The new decision came as the result of a letter from Robert H. Epstein, attorney from the firm of Gallop, Johnson & Neuman, L.C., St. Louis, Mo., representing Waste Connections of Kansas, Inc.

In the letter, Epstein said he and his client understood the city is attempting to reconsider entering into a host agreement with Waste Connections that was presented in a revised draft to the commission last week.

The draft was the latest in proposals reached in negotiation with a team representing the city. The proposal would return money and benefits to the city for hosting a regional landfill that would include Wichita trash at the Martin Marietta rock quarry northeast of Marion.

“At the request of Waste Connections, we would like the city to postpone its consideration of the proposed host agreement for a period of 60 days from the date of this letter,” Epstein wrote.

“During this 60-day period we would ask the city not take any action in connection with the host agreement; please consider this letter as formal notice to you that Waste Connections of Kansas, Inc., withdraws its offer as set forth in the host agreement for a period of 60 days from the date hereof.”

After reading the letter, Hayen said that since there was no longer any offer on the landfill before the commission it appeared there was no need to proceed with the issue. Crofoot agreed, and moved to rescind the election resolution. Hayen seconded.

Peter Rombold, attorney for a group of public citizens suing the City of Marion for allegedly making illegal annexations for the landfill, told the commissioners his group appreciated the decision to rescind the resolution.

“We don’t want to see this prolonged,” Rombold said.

He said his group had wanted the issue resolved without the election, and that the decision would allow them to proceed with the lawsuit to turn back the annexations “in a more cost effective matter for all of us.”

When the city commission went into executive session for a half hour for attorney-client purposes, Rombold met with nearly 30 persons in the city auditorium.

Rombold acknowledged common knowledge at the meeting that Waste Connections is using the 60 days to investigate a landfill location in Harper County. But he urged the group to keep up political pressure against the landfill in the meantime.

“Don’t let them go in their holes only to come out shooting if they don’t get the deal they want in Harper,” he said.

Rombold said his group had a good case that could be used to clarify how annexations can be done in Kansas.

Shirley Groening and John Thole charged that Waste Connections could be using the time to make the landfill “a non-issue” in the upcoming mayor’s election in Marion.

Groening urged the group to help build support for Martin Tice as an anti-landfill candidate for mayor.

In other business, Bob Brookens, counsel for the City of Marion, reported deeding of the abandoned railroad bed north from the railroad depot being renovated as a library to Main Street as the result of legal action brought by the city and Cooperative Grain against Central Kansas Railway and its owners.

Janet Marler and Dwight and Helen Beckham, representing the Marion Historical Society, requested the city fund signs at a little more than $80 each to post on recognized historical homes. Marler said the signs would include a date and name of original owner on homes selected for historical significance to Marion and not for architectural uniqueness.

The commissioners authorized up to $900 for signs on 11 homes already selected.

They include the Billings home owned by Will Meisinger in back of the monument business on Main Street, the Griffith home owned by Hannah Bishop on South Cedar, the Coble home owned by Aaron Hett on North Lincoln, the Kellison home owned by Dick Varenhorst on East Santa Fe, the Willards home owned by Harold Bowers on East Santa Fe, the Keller home owned by Ed Wheeler on North Locust, the Trenner home owned by Gerald Kline on South Lincoln, the Gov. Hoch home owned by Eugene Gilbert on North Lincoln, the Carpenter home owned by Justin Youk on North Third, the Moore home owned by Pat Patterson on east Santa Fe, and the White Oak Bed & Breakfast owned by John Maxfield on North Elm.

David Crofoot, representing a committee for Chingawassa Festival next summer, asked that the city grant a variance on an ordinance forbidding alcoholic beverages on city property to allow a public group to operate a beer garden at the back of the city park for the event.

Crofoot said IDs would be checked, the area would be fenced, and all trash would be picked up before church services Sunday. The beer garden would operate Friday and Saturday, he said.

Crofoot expected a performance by bands with lead attraction “Three Dog Night” to be visible from the garden.

The commissioners didn’t approve or disapprove the beer garden, but told Crofoot to proceed on planning with Police Chief David Mayfield and City Attorney Dan Baldwin to see what would develop.

Vic and Linda Buckner met with the commissioners to discuss city plans to charge for water and sewer taps on lots they might sell in Victoria Heights just off East Main Street They contended that they had completed a significant part of the labor on sewer taps with four of five completed.

The commissioners concurred, and voted 2-0 under advisement from Street Superintendent Marty Fredrickson to charge for water taps but not sewer taps.

Gene Winkler asked the city to consider laying sewer line on the right of way when work is done at Victoria Heights for later extension to the Country Club even though the club isn’t ready to meet the cost of a pump station yet.

Susan Cooper said Manpower, which has a part-time office in Hillsboro, is looking for space to operate one day a week in Marion which should help in searches for part-time work or workers.

She expected excavation for a new regional hardware and lumber store operated by the Brad Seacat family to begin next week at the industrial park.

Fredrickson reported that continual violations on burning items not authorized at the tree dump had resulted in its closure for open dumping by the public. He said a non-duplicatable key must now be picked up for access at the city building, and nobody else can use the dump until it is returned. The dump must be checked by the city after each use.

He said dumping of old tires, boxes of trash and old drywall threatened the dump with permanent closure by the state. He said the city had a tag number for one vehicle that had been used to dump items in violation of burn rules.

The commissioners approved a 2001 plumbing license for Doug Helmer.

They approved paying warrants for $19,908.79.

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