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Residents raise stink over transfer of landfill permit

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The state’s environmental office has agreed to transfer a landfill permit to the new owner of a Madison County property at the center of a decades-long dispute.

Despite the permit, the new owners, a trio of landfill-related companies owned by the same people, say they have no plans to build a landfill. Neighbors aren’t so sure after more than 30 years of fighting such a project.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, in a Dec. 3 decision, allowed 600 Land Inc. to take over a landfill permit from the property’s previous owners, who spent years in court trying to develop the Mallard Lake Landfill.

The permit covers 13 acres of the 254-acre Mallard Lake property outside of Anderson. Setbacks would make it illegal to use the remaining 241 acres for storing trash, said IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed.

A group of residents, led by the Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association, have been embroiled in a legal dispute since 1979 in an attempt to stop the use of the property as a landfill. The group raised concerns ranging from pollution leaching into the nearby Killbuck Creek to accusations the developers had mob connections.

The fight appeared as if it would die down in September after two brothers from Kalamazoo, Mich., John and Michael Balkema, bought the Mallard Lake property for about $1.1 million.

The brothers own three companies: 600 Land, which owns landfills, waste transfer stations and permits; Bex Farms Inc., which owns “buffer land” around landfills and transfer stations, plus other investment properties; and Best Way Disposal, which collects and hauls trash and recycling.

Despite the companies’ close ties to waste and landfills, Best Way, which has an office in Anderson, publicly stated in September that Mallard Lake would not become a landfill.

“Then why would they need a landfill permit?” Bill Kutschera, head of the Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association, repeated throughout an interview with IBJ.

The new owners transferred the permit to 600 Land “to control what happens with the landfill permit,” Andy Drummond, a facility manager for Best Way, wrote in an email.

“Transferring the permit is a logical step,” he said.

Drummond, who would only answer questions through email, would not answer questions about how owning the permit benefits the company, given that it says it won’t develop a landfill.

The companies maintain they plan to rent the Mallard Lake land out for farming purposes. One farmer rents the land today, Drummond said, and “we are evaluating other interested parties.”

None of the companies have pursued further legal steps with IDEM that would show their interest in building a landfill, said IDEM’s Sneed.

“It’s a pretty rigorous process,” he said.

Among the regulations, the owners would need certain amounts of clay and drainage facilities, he added. Most landfills range between 200 and 300 acres because they need to be large enough to justify the upfront costs, he said.

Regardless of what happens to Mallard Lake, Killbuck Concerned Citizens still struggles to believe its feud is over.

The group spoke with its attorney about the permit transfer, Kutschera said, but it does not see any way to legally challenge the decision. The group does “reserve the right” to do so in the future, though, he added.

“We’re not folding up our tent and going home,” he said.

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  • endangered species & brakes to a landfill
    13 acres of trench fill permit will not be an asset to any waste hauling company. If the Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association want to put the brakes on this worry of a possible landfill with a $1.125 Million investment...I say endangered species...at least 15 in the area of the 254 acre farm. Bex then can have their farm and all is well in Madison County. Lets save the legal fees.
  • It's about time!
    This article makes clear that this project is not about a 13-acre landfill but is a plan to build a 200+ acre landfill which has run into unexpected and tough 30+ year-old citizen opposition. Just another twist to skirt laws protecting citizens. Kudos to the citizens up there but where are the public officials? Why are they staying quiet? That rai$e$ $ome Que$tion$.
  • Denmark
    Something is rotten in Denmark (as they say)

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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