Last night, the Madison Common Council voted to approve the sale of part of the Yahara Golf Course to Dane County in order for the county to develop its next landfill and “sustainability campus” on the property.
The legislation stipulates that the proceeds from the sale, about $5.5 million, will go to the city’s long-struggling Golf Enterprise Fund.
John Welch is the Director of the Dane County Department of Waste and Renewables and says that the criteria for the landfill site is twofold:
“That is really governed primarily by regulatory requirements, the DNR, locational criteria for things such as hydrology, geology, setbacks to private wells and things of that nature. A piece of this project, about 25-30 acres, is a sustainable business campus, or business park . That will be a place where we’ll have businesses such as mattress recycling, plastics recycling, compost and food waste organics potentially in the future. When you look at that piece of the project, a business park like that has certain needs. It needs sewer, water, electricity, internet and a close proximity to haul routes,” said Welch .
Currently, Dane County estimates that its current landfill only has enough room to be operable until 2030, at which point the county must have another option for Dane County solid waste.
Though the current landfill has an estimated eight years left of capacity, leaders on the project say there’s still a tight deadline. If the county also approves the sale, the contract is negotiated out by both the city and county to determine the details of the development and incorporate resident feedback.
The county must also get the requisite state licenses before it can build— a years-long process that leaves little time for delay. Dane County Board Chair Patrick Miles says, if delayed, the county might be left without a functioning landfill and will pay much more to have trash hauled elsewhere.
Neighbors, though, voiced their complaints about the plan. Residents of the Secret Places Neighborhood and members of surrounding McFarland pushed back on the plan, citing concerns about odors and safety of particulate matter in the air surrounding the landfill.
One Secret Places resident described feeling devastated at the thought of a new landfill opening close to her dream home, after moving in November of 2021.
Dane County Board Chair Patrick Miles says that the county will likely approve the sale, which has already been recommended for approval, at their meeting next week Thursday.
But Supervisor Miles says he’s had reservations about communication of the plan.
“My concerns were that the site selection should have been a much more transparent process that provided for stakeholder engagement. Representatives from various neighboring communities. That didn’t happen. It was a very staff driven process and I think as a consequence, public trust has been undermined,” said Miles.
But, he says, there is still a chance for input during the planning process.
“If the parties at the table can’t come to an agreement, then basically the sale falls apart. The locally negotiated agreement is very important. It’s the vehicle by which the neighbor’s concerns will be addressed. It’s where the county basically has to sign the dotted line saying they will address mitigation. If there are impacts to property values there is an obligation to make people whole. Questions around traffic patterns, environmental concerns, all those things are terms that can be agreed to in a locally negotiated agreement,” said Miles.
Image courtesy: City of Madison Parks