South Hadley voters place land under conservation
SOUTH HADLEY — A contentious move to place custody of much of the Bynan Conservation Area under control of the Conservation Commission, opposed by abutters to the town’s landfill because they consider it the first step towards expanding landfill operations, was approved by Town Meeting voters Thursday night.
The move means the land will be recorded as conservation property and may only be used for conservation purposes.
Voters overwhelmingly approved placing 106 acres of the 162-acre Bynan property under Conservation Commission authority on a voice vote, after learning their approval would not affect any expansion plans proposed by landfill operator Interstate Waste Services of Ramsey, N.J.
Town Moderator Edward Ryan Jr., an attorney, told voters any expansion plans must be approved by the town’s Board of Health and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Landfill abutters are protesting the IWS proposal to expand into 16 acres of the abutting Bynan land, saying the landfill operator creates noise, dirt and pollution problems.
“We’re voting on a land issue, we’re not voting on a landfill issue,” said Select Board member Marilyn G. Ishler.
Select Board Chairman John R. Hine said the board approved a 2009 contract with IWS calling for the board to cooperate with the waste company’s expansion plan. That contract was later approved at another Town Meeting, Hine said.
Raymond E. Rondeau, Precinct A voter, warned that throwing impediments into the signed agreement with IWS might cost South Hadley money if the town is determined to be in breach of its contract. He also said South Hadley cannot afford to operate its own landfill, because it was expected to cost $7 million to do so 40 years ago.
“We’re not in a position to build a landfill or operate a landfill. It’s not financially feasible,” Rondeau said.
Select Board member Frank J. De Toma said, after the 2½-hour meeting in Town Hall auditorium, that IWS contributes payments and services to South Hadley valued at more than $600,000 a year.
South Hadley bought the Bynan land in 1978 with help from a state grant. At the time, the property was thought to consist of 141 acres, with 40 of those acres devoted to future landfill expansion. But a later survey showed the property contained 162 acres, according to Janice Stone, conservation administrator for South Hadley.