While the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) continues its search for a new landfill site, the Ulster Town Board last week preemptively asked that they look elsewhere.
“We are strongly opposed to having another landfill here,” said Deputy Supervisor Clayton Van Kleeck after the Town Board voted unanimously on a resolution opposing the creation of a countywide landfill during a Town Board meeting held on Thursday, April 6.
The resolution notes that the Town already has a UCRRA composting site and transfer station, “which has increased truck traffic on Routes 32 and 199, and has created noxious odor which have harmed the quality of life for residents of the Town of Ulster.”
The resolution goes on to claim that a new countywide landfill would further burden the Town’s residents would harm economic development, and “runs counter to the duly adopted Comprehensive Plan dated July 2, 2007.”
In an interview with Hudson Valley One, Van Kleeck said in addition to the UCRRA’s current operations within the Town’s municipal boundaries, Ulster closed its own 44-acre landfill south of the Hudson Valley Mall in the mid-‘90s after nearly 50 years of operation, and were not eager to go down that road again.
The UCRRA has yet to identify any potential sites for the first county landfill approved by the State of New York in nearly two decades. An agency-funded study conducted by HydroQuest in the summer of 2021 identified two locations in Plattekill, one of which was the long-closed Hertel Landfill, a contaminated Superfund site.
In an undated letter to “all interested parties” posted to the UCRRA website, the agency’s Executive Director Greg Ollivier said it was determined that a more thorough landfill site selection study would need to be undertaken.
“A decision was made to not officially receive the (HydroQuest) document as a completed report and not use it to inform any decisions concerning the question of a local landfill,” wrote Ollivier. “Because the report was left as a draft document and would not be used by UCRRA it was not released to the public because it would only serve to cause undo concern by residents.”
Ollivier added that the UCRRA is seeking proposals to discover how much an extensive landfill siting study would cost and how long it would take. A Request for a Statement of Interest (RSOI) has also been released specifically related to waste diversion, as the county “want(s) to dramatically reduce the amount of waste being landfilled to reduce the need for landfilling altogether.”
In his letter, Ollivier said that the UCRRA would be fully transparent in its efforts.
“We have not commissioned a new study,” Ollivier wrote. “We have not decided that a local landfill is feasible. We have not determined a suitable location for a landfill. None of us know if it is even possible to develop a local landfill in Ulster County.”
But if there is one day a new local landfill in Ulster County, the Town of Ulster would like to remove their municipality from contention.
“I’ve heard from no one in our town that thinks it’s a good idea,” Van Kleeck said. “There’s not a big property owner that hopes that they’ll locate it here. I could see if we were in an area that there was a large ravine somewhere, and there were no homes around it and it would really help this person to sell that property, that’d be different. But we don’t have that. There’s nothing like that in the Town of Ulster.”
Van Kleeck said he wasn’t sure it even made logistical sense for a countywide landfill to be sited in the Town of Ulster.
“We’re the major commercial hub for the county, but it’s not the center of the county, which is confusing,” he said. “It is the center of the county activity, or if you were to put a pin where most of the economic work is. I think it’s just a pressure point, and there’s probably some politics involved, which I’m not aware of.”
Van Kleeck said it was understood that the UCRRA had yet to even undertake a second landfill siting study, but Town officials still felt it was important to state their intent as up front as possible.
“We want to make it very clear, we don’t want it here,” Van Kleeck said. “That was the purpose of the resolution, before it gets to the point where they’re really starting to identify particular areas that they’d like to go.”