Trash district eyes Ferrisburgh deal

VERGENNES — The Addison County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD) board of supervisors have asked its attorney to draft an offer for Ferrisburgh’s town-owned, 34.91-acers just outside of Vergennes, according to ACSWMD manager Teri Kuczynski.
If Ferrisburgh and ACSWMD officials make a deal and ACSWMD obtains permits, the site would be used for a regional recycling and trash collection site to replace the Vergennes recycling center, which is probably closing on Dec. 31.
ACSWMD officials have been eyeing a regional drop-off center as the best long-term answer to Vergennes-area trash and recycling handling.
But Kuczynski said the board on Oct. 18 did not make a final decision on whether to present the offer, and would wait until its Nov. 15 meeting to review the document prepared by its attorney. Details of a possible offer are not public. Kuczynski has said the ACSWMD board has the ability to make a cash offer for the land.
Ferrisburgh’s parcel lies at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A, next to the Agency of Transportation park-and-ride lot. Its asking price is $375,000. The town has accepted less money in two prior deals, three of which have fallen through over the past seven years.
Even if the sides agree, both the Ferrisburgh selectboard and ACSWMD officials have noted uncertainty of the Act 250 process for the proposal on the parcel, almost three-quarters of which is also conserved land. ACSWMD’s offer will certainly contain a permitting contingency.
At the Oct. 16 selectboard meeting Ferrisburgh’s representative on the ACSWMD board, Steve Huffaker, restated that point.
“They (the ACSWMD board) are very concerned about Act 250 being the biggest hurdle,” Huffaker said.
Huffaker said if a deal is struck and permits are approved ACSWMD might start “on day one” by parking trucks on the parcel, on a location back off Route 22A that would be accessed by a new paved road. A permanent facility would probably follow at a later date.
But officials have said the permitting process would not allow the parcel to come on line quickly enough to replace the Vergennes recycling center, which the city council this spring voted to close at the end of the year. The council made that move after an increase in the cost of handling recycling triggered a 50-percent hike in the center’s annual budget. 
Vergennes, Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton and Waltham residents have been able to drop off not only recycling at the center, but also trash. The city and the towns have budgeted the cost of the center into their annual spending plans; Vergennes has paid half, and the other towns chip in on a sliding scale.
Huffaker told the Ferrisburgh selectboard unless the towns act quickly area residents might have to pay for more costly curbside service or haul their trash and recycling to ACSWMD’s transfer station in Middlebury.
“Ferrisburgh people could have no place to go,” Huffaker told the selectboard, adding later, “Vergennes could negotiate for a stop-gap solution.”
Kuczynski said on Friday ACSWMD would continue to work with Vergennes-area communities on short-term options, which might include another site to park trucks, adding that Vergennes could be at the center of talks.
“I think it’s up to the city of Vergennes to decide to do with its site, and we’ll continue to work with them for a temporary solution,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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