Ferrisburgh site eyed for trash center

VERGENNES — The Addison County Solid Waste Management District board of supervisors has voted to negotiate with Ferrisburgh about possibly purchasing or leasing the town’s 34.91-acre parcel outside of Vergennes for a regional recycling and trash collection site.
With the Vergennes recycling center probably closing on Dec. 31, Addison County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD) Manager Teri Kuczynski said the district board believes the best long-term answer to Vergennes-area trash and recycling handling is a regional drop-off center.
And the waste district board is now eyeing Ferrisburgh’s parcel at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A, which lies next to the Agency of Transportation park-and-ride lot and comes with an asking price of $375,000.
The board adopted a motion at its Sept. 20 annual retreat that authorizes Kuczynski “to begin negotiations with the town of Ferrisburgh, including, but not limited to: Act 250; Timing; Regional Planning Commission Transportation Plan; Vergennes Truck Route Transportation Planning; Terms of Easement; Financing and all other associated costs.”
Kuczynski said that, because state officials opposed an earlier proposal for an auto dealership on the site, a potential solid waste district Act 250 application could also be an issue for officials. She said ACSWMD engineers will discuss concepts with the state as part of the process.
The Ferrisburgh selectboard has already voted to discuss a potential sale with the district, and Kuczynski has met with listing broker Duncan Harris on the property.
“Now it’s a matter of us gathering the information so that they (the ACSWMD board) can decide if it’s going to be a lease, if it’s going to be a purchase-and-sale contingent upon the permitting and other elements. How much information do they need before they want to make a counteroffer? Duncan gave the price for the property that he is authorized to give, and I’ll take that back to the executive board, and so we’ll decide what the next step is,” Kuczynski said.
“I know that if they decide it’s a go, if they decide it looks promising, I don’t think they’re going to want to lose it.”
 Kuczynski said district officials will make formal contact with Ferrisburgh again soon. The ACSWMD executive board was set to meet this past Wednesday (Oct. 10), and the full board will meet again on Oct. 18.
“We are going through the process of obtaining information, and we will have something to get back to the selectboard with after either the executive board meeting or the full board meeting on Oct. 18,” Kuczynski said. 
Meanwhile, with the Vergennes recycling center set to close on Dec. 31, ACSWMD and Vergennes-area officials do not yet have answers for residents who would prefer a drop-off center to curbside waste and recycling collection.
Any resident anywhere can contract with a private hauler for curbside service, but some who have long driveways or live in rural areas with slower snow removal schedules have said they prefer drop-off facilities.  
City Manager Matt Chabot was asked if there had been any discussion about keeping the city recycling center open on short-term basis after December, possibly under ACSWMD management, or about any other short-term alternatives. 
“I am not aware of any short term plan (or other) after 12/31,” Chabot responded in an email.
Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton and Waltham as well as Vergennes residents have been able for years to drop off not only recycling, but also trash, at the center. The city has contracted with trash haulers, in recent years C&J Haulers, to collect trash onsite.
Towns have budgeted the cost of the center into their annual spending plans, with Vergennes paying 50 percent of the center’s costs, Ferrisburgh funding 20 percent, and the other three towns chipping in 10 percent apiece.
But Casella Inc. this past spring announced a price increase for hauling recycling that boosted the center’s projected annual cost by $34,600 to roughly $107,600, and the Vergennes City Council voted to fund it just through December rather than June 2019, as originally planned. The other towns agreed to do so just through December, also.
Chabot plans to hold a meeting with selectboard members and ACSWMD officials this month in an effort to discuss the issue and brainstorm solutions.
He expects the towns to also bring up at the meeting the talks between ACSWMD and Ferrisburgh about the Route 7/22A parcel, and the question of whether it is a suitable site.
“That will be part of the discussion, obviously, when we get together,” Chabot said. “I have concerns, obviously. It’s kind of the gateway to Vergennes.”
Chabot said he could see how a recycling and trash drop-off center might be successfully sited and screened on the parcel, pointing to a berm behind the Agency of Transportation park-and-ride lot, for example, as one possible way to shield the facility from view.
“We would work closely with whoever designed the project,” he said. “It really depends where it is on the parcel.”
Chabot acknowledges he doesn’t know what the immediate steps will be, although he is sure many area residents will be dealing with change in how they handle their trash and recycling.
“Recycling is going to be an issue in 2019,” Chabot said.
Kuczynski said any permanent facility, at the Ferrisburgh site or elsewhere, would take time to permit and build. In the meantime ACSWMD will be working with the Vergennes-area communities on short-term options, which might include a place to park trucks.
“I think it’s obvious to everyone it’s going to take some time, and there are probably going to have to be some type of short-term interim collection facility,” she said. “What form or shape that will take yet, I don’t know, but there will be something.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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