NORRIDGEWOCK — Town leaders are hurrying to stake out their position on legislation that would allow Waste Management to expand after a bill was drafted without their direct input.

The bill, L.D. 879, includes recommendations selectmen made a year ago, but they were not contacted directly prior to the bill’s draft being submitted to the state revisor’s office.

“I’m just very frustrated with the state in this respect that the town was not given a seat at the table,” Board Chairman Ron Frederick said at Wednesday night’s meeting. “It’s just frustrating sitting here trying to represent the town and not having the information.”

The town manager and selectmen will decide at 5 p.m. today what they want to say about the bill at a public hearing at 1 p.m., Wednesday, in room 216 of the Burton Cross building in Augusta.

Waste Management District Manager Jeff McGown said he and Rep. Philip Curtis, R-Madison, maintained communication with the town about their intentions for the bill and used “word-for-word language” that selectmen had requested a year ago. The draft bill became available to selectmen as soon as it was printed, he said.

“I couldn’t have done it any differently, I don’t think,” he said.

“(The bill) shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us,” Selectman Laura Lorette said. The surprise to her, she said, is that the public hearing is just a week away.

Co-sponsored by three state representatives and five senators, the bill would allow Crossroads Landfill to expand onto 175 acres of contiguous property. The current law doesn’t allow landfills to expand on land they didn’t own before to 1989.

The bill has been in the works since 2009, when the bill’s wording was placed in a related bill and then removed. Last March the state natural resources committee killed a bill to allow the landfill to expand because it needed more information.

The selectmen have requested all along to be included in the process, Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said, and that has not always happened.

“It wasn’t a surprise to anybody that anything was coming; the surprise was what came,” Flewelling said. “We were hoping to see it and work on it prior to it becoming an L.D.”

Curtis, who is House Majority Leader, said he included the language the board had requested. “I apologize for not meeting with you two months ago,” he said.

The town’s requirements, that are currently in the bill, would prohibit the landfill from receiving property tax exemptions on its facilities. It would require that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection not act on any application or issue a license for expansion until the community has had time to review its local impact.

It would also require that the department not issue a license until the host benefit agreement between Waste Management and the town could be amended to account for any expansion.

While there are several other town requirements in the currently proposed bill, there may be many more that should be considered, Flewelling said.

Those in favor of allowing the landfill to expand have pointed to reasons of competition. If the landfill reaches capacity in 2021 or 2022, the only landfill left in Maine will be the state-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town.

Residents, however, have expressed fear that if the landfill expands it will be able to accept more out-of-state waste. But McGown said it makes more economic sense for Waste Management’s landfill in Rochester, N.H., to accept out-of-state waste than the one in Norridgewock.

Residents at Wednesday’s meeting asked McGown if the facility was accepting medical waste.

He said the landfill doesn’t have approval to accept medical waste, but even if it did it wouldn’t accept it in its current state. It would only take the waste if the sharps were separated out, so they could be put in the part of the landfill used for asbestos.

Erin Rhoda — 474-9534

[email protected]

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