It moves out of political, into technical - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

It moves out of political, into technical

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Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:14 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Michael Racy approached the Marana Town Council one more time Wednesday, representing DKL Holdings with regard to the company’s proposed Marana Regional Landfill.

“You’ve all probably heard more about landfills than you actually want to,” Racy told the council, and no one disagreed.

But they heard, one more time.

Wednesday night’s decision did not permit or approve a landfill, Racy said. “It creates an industrial zoning classification,” Racy said. “Only the State of Arizona can permit and approve a municipal solid waste facility.

“Members of the opposition would love to have you make that technical determination,” Racy said. He believes the DKL technical story is solid. “The decision should live” with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

“It’s time to move this out of the political and emotional realm, and into the scientific and technical realm,” Racy said. He was grateful for “the extraordinary amount of time the community has spent. I know there are divisions. It’s an emotional, hard issue.” The diligence of Marana’s staff and elected leadership “equals or exceeds any landfill siting and review in the State of Arizona to date, bar none.”

DKL must secure 22 separate regulatory facilities before it could open a landfill.

If it never does, the council retains the right to revert the zone, Racy said.

There are two land use designations within the 590-acre parcel, which was previously used for agriculture. The landfill itself would occupy 430 acres, with trash processing and recycling operations on another 23 acres. The perimeter area would remain in open space, serving as a buffer zone between the industrial operation and any residences or other uses. A “screening berm,” with slope adequate to allow vegetation, would surround the landfill. “It’s not like a tailings area,” said Kevin Kish, Marana’s general manager of development services.

Racy said the site is “easily protected from area floodplains,” and is “well-buffered” from other uses. Its proximity to residential units is more than double the distance between Tucson’s Los Reales landfill and nearby homes.

Addressing environmental impacts, Racy said if the concerns of opponents regarding groundwater contamination were true, landfills such as Tangerine and Los Reales “would have already completely contaminated our groundwater and our air. They have not. Modern landfills are enormously safer than those landfills.”

The landfill would “anchor and help further” a commercial and industrial zone “that has been and continues to develop around” Marana Regional Airport, Racy said, and “discourages residential around the airport.”

It should encourage economic development by keeping landfill costs down, he continued, and its operation should contribute millions in host fees to the Town of Marana and the Marana Unified School District, allow for improvements to Avra Valley Road — identified as the single, designated truck route for landfill traffic — and structures along that roadway. Such work is “currently critically needed, and completely unfunded by the county,” Racy said.

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