Government

Marion landfill capacity could be extended through 2074, says Solid Waste Agency

Agency presented its proposal to Marion City Council members on Tuesday

Trucks unload at the landfill at the Solid Waste Agency in Marion in this 2019 photo. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Trucks unload at the landfill at the Solid Waste Agency in Marion in this 2019 photo. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The Solid Waste Agency presented its proposal to the Marion City Council to extend the capacity of the Marion landfill through 2074.

During Tuesday’s work session, agency board Chairman Scott Olson and Communications Director Joe Horaney gave a video presentation to council members for the agency, proposing a cell modification at the landfill, located at 1954 County Home Rd.

“There are not many other options if the landfill closes for our county,” said Olson, who also is a Cedar Rapids city council member. “We wanted to start a dialogue for what happens in 25 years.”

Horaney said that cell modification would serve local industry and economic development while supporting local programs and projects. Expansion would extend its current capacity, which is through 2044, by 30 years.

An agreement from 2006 requires Marion City Council to approve any amendment to the current plan. Excavation then would begin this year, and construction of the additional cell would occur in 2021 Horaney said.

The agreement between Marion and the agency reopened the Marion landfill after Mount Trashmore in Cedar Rapids was closed in 2006. The final elevation of the landfill was not to exceed 914 feet above sea level, and the setback of the footprint of the landfill from Artesian Road would be 1,800 feet.

Residents and city council members have voiced their concerns in the past on potential negative effects a potential expansion could have on the city, which is growing in the direction of the landfill.

During the presentation, Horaney said, if approved, the cell modification would not change the current boundaries of the landfill as the overall property boundary would remain the same.

“I understand Marion feels like the dumping ground for the entire county,” Horaney said in the video.

The agency handles around 200,000 tons of garbage each year, with the city of Marion accounting for 3.28 percent of the landfill’s customers by tonnage. But Horaney pointed out that many Marion residents work for companies in Cedar Rapids that contribute a lot of that percentage.

Horaney listed benefits of keeping the landfill where it is, including holding market rates steady, continuing subsidized diversion programs and education programs at Linn-Mar and Marion Independent, as well as a host fee paid to Marion that would be determined after discussions between Marion and the agency.

Horaney said a host fee would provide the city with 50 years of revenue and 25 years additional years of solid waste service for residences and businesses.

“Could a viable alternative (for waste removal) emerge in 20 years, 10 years or one year? Absolutely,” Horaney said. “Having extra capacity is like insurance, in case a viable alternative does not emerge.”

The city of Marion would have to consider allowing the setback to be changed by amending the current agreement and the 28E agreement and enter into discussion with the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency for the host fee rate. Or the city could choose to leave the settlement agreement as is.

If terms are reached, the agency’s founding members — the city of Cedar Rapids and Linn County — would have to approve changing the 28E agreement as well and Marion’s Planning and Zoning Commission would have to approve any landfill design plans.

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If Marion decides to leave the settlement agreement as is, the agency’s board of directors would have to seek alternatives, such as finding a new landfill to accept garbage after 2044.

Comments: gage.miskimen@thegazette.com

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