DALTON — The Board of Selectmen on Monday received a petition signed by more than 100 residents that calls for a Special Town Meeting and the adoption of emergency, temporary zoning to prevent a landfill from being located here.
Jo Beth Dudley, who chairs the board, accepted the petition and said the town would consult with its attorneys to determine next steps.
Earlier this year, the town learned that Casella Waste Systems, which is based in Rutland, Vt., and owns and operates the regional North Country Environmental Services landfill in neighboring Bethlehem, is running out of room in Bethlehem and was looking to build a new landfill off New Hampshire Route 116.
The problem with that plan, according to Jon Swan, is that the landfill would be adjacent to Forest Lake State Park and could potentially leach harmful substances into the lake, which in a roundabout way drains into several water bodies that ultimately drain into the Connecticut River.
Swan, who lives at the far eastern end of the lake, across the street from it, also warned that the landfill would result in an increase in heavy truck traffic, and, overall, create a negative impact on tourism and local property values.
In calling for the Special Town Meeting, the request for which would have to be approved by the Coos County Superior Court, Swan said state law allows communities without zoning, such as Dalton, to adopt interim zoning.
Subject to re-authorization at the subsequent Town Meeting, the zoning, among other things, would prevent any use “…which could cause any undue hazard to health, safety or property values or which is offensive to the public because of noise, vibration, excessive traffic, unsanitary conditions, noxious odor, smoke or other similar reason.”
Should Dalton adopt the special, emergency zoning, Swan said it would give the town a powerful voice in discussions with Casella. The company was not represented at Monday’s meeting but has previously said that the Dalton site is geographically ideal for a landfill.
“I like my quiet life,” Swan told the selectmen, implying that the landfill would impinge upon it. “We don’t need two landfills in the county.”
Dudley suggested that the selectmen write a letter to the NH Department of Environmental Services to inquire about the policies and processes for siting a landfill, noting the General Court had set the year 2000 as the date by which 40 percent of solid waste was diverted from landfills.