09/24/2014 Minutes

From: Michael S. Batcher

Subject: September 24, 2014 SWIP Planning Meeting Minutes

Date: September 25, 2014

Town Representatives: Rob Gaiotti (Dorset), Dave Kiernan (Shaftsbury), Mitch Race (Shaftsbury), Nancy Bushika (Stamford), Steve Bendix (Sunderland), Hap Percey (Pownal), Bette Charette and Mike Charette (Woodford), Sandy Gaszek (Searsburg)

Not in Attendance: Keith Squires (Arlington), Stu Hurd (Bennington), Ricky Harrington (Glastenbury), Suzie dePeyster (Sandgate), Mark Lourie (Rupert), John O’Keefe (Manchester)

BCRC Staff: Michael S. Batcher

Location and Time: Community College of Vermont, Room 180 – 4:00 to 6:00 PM


We started by going around the table and introducing ourselves. Sandy Gaszek, Select Board Chair from Searsburg had asked to join our planning group. The Windham Solid Waste District is considering whether and how to add Searsburg to the district membership. In the meantime, Searsburg is required to have a SWIP, so they will join us and contribute their share of funds.

Michael announced that the Rutland Solid Waste District and the Solid Waste Alliance are organizing a meeting for towns to meet with VT ANR staff on the required unit based pricing ordinance. Many of the members have had questions and objections about adopting such an ordinance. That meeting is currently scheduled for November 12th at 6:00 PM in Rutland. Michael will send out more information as it becomes available.

SWIP Outline:

Michael reviewed the SWIP outline he had sent out prior to the meeting. The plan has to comply with the VT ANR Materials Management Plan and must be completed and adopted by the towns and approved by VT ANR by June 18, 2015. Actually, our real date is May 18, 2015 as we are being funded through a municipal planning grant and need to complete the plan to close out the grant by that date.

We need to engage in public outreach. If the Select Boards can put the Universal Recycling Law and the SWIP on their agenda, Michael can come, present and solicit public comments. BCRC and those towns with web sites can also put information about the Universal Recycling Law and our planning efforts on those sites. We may also need to put information in local papers or on CAT and GNAT.

One concern that was raised was the difficulty in getting people to participate in organic collection. Michael was asked if organic collections would be paid with a fee. Since the meeting, he has learned the answer is yes, that haulers can charge for organics. So the question is whether residents will be motivated to separate out organics or leave it with their trash. That will largely depend on how the charges for trash vs. organics are allocated.

We also discussed encouraging home composting, which we have done in the past by selling compost bins. Composting may be the simplest method for many residents as it would be free, and they would be motivated to sort through material efficiently. Material needs to be of relatively high quality for either composting or anaerobic digestion. The latter presents problems in that the residue may contain more nutrients than can be applied to the land, on farms or elsewhere.

There was also discussion on how the food scrap generators of different sizes would phase in and how the size of generators was determined. Currently those generating two tons/week can no longer send their material to a landfill. TAM and Casella have been soliciting them as customers for their organics services. Michael explained that the size classes were all estimates from various studies, but anecdotal information indicted the amounts being received at present were lower than what has been predicted.

The outreach efforts will need to focus on food related and non-food related businesses. Michael’s understanding is that VT ANR is most interested in organics. We will need to develop outreach programs for all recyclables including organics as well as for household hazardous waste and construction and demolition debris.

We will also need to do some surveys of schools on their current recycling and organics programs as part of the plan.

There were no specific comments on the outline, but anyone can provide those at any time. Michael plans to start working on a draft and flesh out much of the plan by mid-November. The group did indicate they liked the name, Vermont Shires Solid Waste Alliance.

Consultants Update:

Michael had sent out RFPs for consultants to 1) assist with cost estimates for the outreach program and 2) assist in evaluating organizational options. We did not receive a response to #1 that would have been helpful, so Michael will do that. The Northeast Recycling Council or NERC is working on #2, and Lynn Rubenstein has been interviewing many of the members of this committee. NERC also has a grant for outreach to several Bennington County schools that might provide a model for our outreach efforts.

Lynn should have a draft report sometime in October. She will come to our next meeting and guide us through a discussion on the positive and negative aspects of solid waste districts vs. alliances and the level of authority and organizational responsibilities of whatever we choose. In general, the members favor an alliance over a district as they prefer to avoid creating a new, independent entity.

Concern was raised as to whether small towns can find volunteers to serve on an alliance board as it is already difficult to find members for existing positions.

Solid Waste Ordinances:

The SWIP needs to include copies of any relevant ordinances on solid waste. Michael has ordinances from Bennington, Manchester, Stamford, Sunderland, and Woodford at this point, so please either send them or send Michael links to any on town websites from which they can be accessed. If there are no ordinances, that would be good to know as well.

New Facilities:

Michael asked for some guidance on the review and approval of new facilities for the new SWIP. The current nine-town SWIP requires unanimous approval of all towns for any new facility. The general consensus was that a majority of towns should suffice. We should also considering incorporating review by adjacent towns that might be affected. The Alliance Board would be responsible for review and approval rather than requiring select board approval. Local development review boards or planning commissions should be cognizant of the requirements of the SWIP and relevant VT ANR regulations during their review of permit applications. Applications for permits already indicate that state and other approvals may be necessary, and it would be easy to add approval by the alliance in that language. We could request changes to bylaws, but that might take time and effort and meet with resistance in some towns.

HHW Coordination:

Currently, Bennington holds two events per year for Bennington and Woodford, Shaftsbury holds two events for Shaftsbury, Glastenbury, Pownal and Stamford, and BCRC holds two events for Arlington, Dorset, Manchester, Rupert, Sandgate, and Sunderland. The Universal Recycling Law requires the number of events to increase to four within a few years, so we need to more efficiently share events. If we develop a permanent facility, we would still need at least one event for residents beyond 15 miles of that facility. We need to begin to consolidate our events to save resources while providing adequate opportunities for participation. We need to incorporate this into the SWIP and consider this for the next VT ANR grant round, due in December. There was general consensus that a permanent facility would be beneficial, and Michael is working on a report to assess options.

On another note, Casella is going to join the state fluorescent bulb program and will provide free drop off of bulbs at the Bennington, Northshire and Sunderland stations. Bennington no longer has a free drop off center with the closure of Greenberg’s.

This speaks to sharing of facilities. The mercury program allows a town to collect only for the residents of that town. If Bennington were to open the station for residents beyond the town, that would provide a drop off for Pownal, Stamford, Woodford and Shaftsbury. Currently, their nearest free dropoff is Miles Lumber in Arlington. The other towns that use the Northshire and Sunderland stations could consider expanding access as well, but those are owned by Casella and operations are guided by a contract between Casella and the towns of Arlington, Dorset, Manchester, Sandgate and Sunderland. So, we need further discussion on this topic.

Next Steps:

Our next meeting will focus on organizational structure. Lynn Rubenstein of NERC will attend and lead us through a discussion of that topic. We will meet on Monday, October 27, 2014 from 4:00 to 6:30 PM. Michael will find a location and send that out with the agenda well before the meeting.

Hap Percey has resigned as the transfer station operator for Pownal, and we will need a new representative from Pownal.