Debunking some of the Landfill expansion myths

Mayor of Riverview, Michigan - Andrew Swift

Andrew Swift

My fellow Riverview residents, I normally use this column to inform you of all the good, fun things going on around town. The intent of this month’s column is to inform you, but I don’t consider this fun, it’s serious.

As I stated last month, the Wayne County Facility Inclusion Committee has asked Riverview to resubmit our application to expand our land preserve. They sighted three items that they would like to see happen. 

The first is to establish a curbside recycling program and/or operation of a second recycling center offsite from the landfill.  

Their second request is a multi-million dollar requirement. They would like us to move the entrance to Sibley Road or Allen Road in Brownstown.  

And a third request is to identify a minimum isolation (distance from) of the Frank & Poet Drain from the expansion.

What I didn’t have space to explain to you last month is all the background work happening over the past 14 months. The land preserve expansion request is an extremely important issue for Riverview and our surrounding communities. 

It is so important that we’ve been on an educational offensive for more than a year. We’ve offered tours of the land preserve operations to most Downriver mayors and supervisors and their councils and boards. Our thought process was that if they’ve seen the operations for themselves, and not rely on the rhetoric of social media, a sound judgement could be made. 

For all those that took us up on the offer, there was a common response. The response was how impressed they were of the operation, its cleanliness, efficiency, and lack of odor. Most of those who took the tour wrote letters of support for the expansion.

Of all those elected officials who were offered and took time out of their busy schedules to educate themselves and build first-hand knowledge of the operation, it did not include our own Wayne County Commissioner, Joe Palamara.  If our commissioner had taken the time for the tour he would have learned it didn’t include closing of the golf course as he misstated in an interview after the FIC meeting.  

State Senator Stephanie Chang did meet with us via Zoom but did not tour the land preserve. She and State Representative Darrin Camilleri had concerns with the environmental impact of trucks. Our expansion includes no increase in truck traffic that has been going on in that area for the last 50-plus years. As a matter of fact, if you think out the process, all Downriver communities sending their garbage trucks to a landfill 20 miles away, those same trucks would be on the road hours longer and polluting more than if they came to Riverview.

Another elected official to not take us up on the tour was Trenton Mayor Steve Rzeppa. 

If he would have taken just an hour and a half he would have seen exactly where Trenton’s garbage trucks go seven to 15 times a day.  He would have seen where the expansion was planned and the odor controls already in place. He missed the methane recovery plant, the Compressed Natural Gas plant and hundreds of methane recovery wells.

One important area he missed was the area we’ve been talking with him and previously Mayor Stack of a joint recycling project between our two cities. Both Riverview and Trenton were called out by Wayne County for not having a recycling program. Riverview will continue alone with our plans for a satellite recycling center on the east side of town to help satisfy the county’s concerns.

The Wayne County Facilities Inclusion Committee just ignored the 10 local mayors and supervisors and the 17 other organizations that supported our expansion request. These leaders were able to look past all the false information put out by those opposing the expansion request. 

They did pay attention to an organization based outside of our city. This organization made up mostly of Trenton residents has no vested interest on the negative impact to our residents if the expansion is denied. 

The same organization has equated our land preserve expansion with the industrial development of the McClouth property in Trenton. The two have nothing to do with each other.  Our land preserve is not contaminated with hazardous and toxic waste. We don’t pollute the land, water, or air. We are monitored and tested regularly by Wayne County and the state of Michigan’s Environment, Great Lakes & Energy division.

We’ve never hidden that the expansion will be toward some homes on Coachwood. 

These homes will still have three fairways of golf course and at least 1,200 feet between their homes and the hill.  

It has been falsely reported that the golf course is closing, it is not.

The City Council is moving forward with the plans to expand the landfill until our residents tell us to stop. 

We are working on a special election to have an advisory proposal on the ballot, basically asking our residents if they would support the expansion given what the alternative is. As of now that alternative is a combination of cuts in services and tax increases. Council has been preparing for ways to replace the lost income for when the landfill closes.  

One of the first actions taken will likely be putting a garbage collection millage on this December’s tax bill. This millage has always been authorized but never levied.

Over the next few months I’ll be highlighting the options City Council has to offset the loss of income.