Solid waste plan approved despite questions from commissioner

The Marion County Commission approved a five-year solid waste management plan at its meeting June 3, but one commissioner believed its importance warranted more time for the public to review.

Prior to approving the Central Kansas Regional Solid Waste Authority’s five-year plan by a vote of 2-0 (Commissioner Randy Dallke was absent), one citizen did ask a question.

Amy Soyez, a resident of Marion County, said she wondered why the tire cutting machine was not included in the plan.

For Commissioner Dianne Novak, the idea of having to make a “quick decision” on this five-year plan was unacceptable.

“Today (June 3) is the deadline, and I see this as another form of being unprepared,” she said. “Why couldn’t we have had a discussion last Monday or even Friday so that we could make changes before we approved it.”

Novak voted in favor because, she said, it was a multi-county plan involving Marion, Harvey and McPherson counties. Plus, the deadline was today.

The public notice was in the Marion Record on May 29, but no details of the plan were available other than to provide the date, time and place of the public hearing.

According to the information, the plan was reviewed by a land-use planning agency for consistency between the solid waste management plan and other comprehensive plans covering the county or region.

Possible agencies involved in the process could include the planning and zoning departments, conservation or watershed districts, RC&D, economic development or any organization or agency with the planning area.

In Marion County, the plan was given to the planning and zoning director, and the conservation district director. No recommendations for changes were made by the directors.

One change in the emergency management plan involved disaster plans, which are in place, and a specific plan for debris waste, which is being drafted. 

In addition, the document stated that Marion County has developed a natural disaster management plan.

Another area of the plan involved a description of each county and its solid waste management system.

Regarding the general county description, it was stated that none of the three counties to include Marion, Harvey and McPherson had any changes in geographical or geological characteristics.

The projected 10-year growth and description of population densities stated that Marion County has had a slow decline in population with the economic characteristics and workforce remaining about the same. The population for Marion County is 11,986.

For Harvey County, the plan stated there have been no changes in population densities and growth projection from what is listed in the current plan. Its population is about 34,544.

McPherson County showed a similar lack of changes as both Marion and Harvey counties with the population at 28,708.

Other parts of the plan included the totals of all three counties and how much solid waste was generated in 2018. The recycled items totaled about 20,268 tons and disposal was about 80,423 tons for a total amount generated at about 100,691 tons.

Regarding changes expected to occur over the next ten-year planning period, the plan stated: “The most significant event related to solid waste expected in Harvey County will be acquiring permitting for expansion of the construction and demolition landfill.”

Marion County expects construction on new facilities in January 2019 to be completed by January 2020. And, in McPherson County, the expectation is the continued operation and expansion of municipal solid waste landfill at 1462 Pueblo Road, McPherson.

One change related to a previously existing program happened in Harvey County with the elimination of e-waste separate from the waste stream because of no outlet for recycling.

After Marion County joined the Big Lakes Regional Household Hazardous Waste organization three years ago, it’s been able to take in more items to dispose of at a small cost. According to Bud Druse, director of Marion County’s HHW and solid waste management, this service has helped both the public and private businesses.

Another area that Marion County is improving on is continuing its recycling program which started in 2009. In order to meet the demand, Druse reported that four more recycle bins were purchased. One is in Marion, one in Peabody and two in Hillsboro.

The purpose of Marion County’s storm debris management plan is in guiding the county should a large amount of debris be generated by storms.

The debris plan addresses disposal methods, tree limb and other yard waste, construction and demolition debris, asbestos, HHW, medical waste, municipal solid waste, white goods, scrap metal, e-waste, recycling and tires.

In addition to the lack of time in reviewing the five-year plan document, Novak said she doesn’t think the county seriously gives proper notification to the public.

“It doesn’t matter the subject,” she said, “if we are going to have a public meeting, we need to put the information out for the people. And, the (public hearing notice on the five-year solid waste management plan) was bare bones.”

Novak said it didn’t serve anyone well.

“Why can’t we just put the information out so people know what’s about to happen and where and when to attend a meeting?”