South Hadley Conservation Commission accepts land abutting dump
SOUTH HADLEY — The Conservation Commission allowed landfill expansion opponents to sound off Wednesday before voting unanimously to accept surveyed boundaries for protected land outside the dump.
Private landfill operator Interstate Waste Services of Ramsey, N.J., is proposing to expand operations into a 16-acre portion of the Bynan property. The expansion is a separate matter that requires Board of Health approval, conservation board Chairman John Fleming told the dozen people who attended Wednesday’s hearing at Town Hall.
The conservation panel merely accepted the boundaries for a 107-acre part of the Bynan parcel that would be recorded with the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds and keep that portion permanently protected as conservation land, Fleming said.
The newly established boundaries must be accepted at a special Town Meeting Oct. 29 in order to be recorded, he said.
The Bynan property, bought by South Hadley in 1978, encompasses 162 acres on the town’s borders with Chicopee and Granby. Most of it will now be permanently protected from development if Town Meeting voters agree, Fleming said.
Some of the remaining land — 16 acres — would be used for landfill expansion, if that plan is later approved, he said.
Fleming and Conservation Administrator Janice Stone said that town records gave varying descriptions of the conservation portion of the Bynan property over the years, leading to confusion.
At one point in the hourlong discussion, as landfill opponents questioned the validity of the newly established boundaries, board member Jim Canning said, “There’s been a lot of mystery and mislabeling in the past. We need to nail this down. The conclusion I draw is this: It’s a mess.”
He said board members needed to make a clear-cut decision on whether to accept the boundaries “so there will never be another question about it.”
Fleming said the 107-acre conservation parcel was recently re-surveyed by Lynnfield Engineering Inc. of Danvers using property markers that were listed on town maps.
But Victor M. Anop, a Chicopee attorney representing the opponents’ organization, South Hadley Against More Expansion (SHAME), said after the meeting that his clients remain unsatisfied.
“I don’t think the residents really feel that they got any answers,” he said after the meeting.
SHAME member Lori Eldridge of 45 Columbia St. said she thinks Interstate Waste is pushing ahead with landfill expansion plans even though abutters are opposed.
“I just don’t have any faith in them. They don’t live in South Hadley. They don’t care about us,” she said. “I just don’t understand how the board could make a decision tonight about anything, because everything (the board decides) affects everything else.”
IWS proposes expanding 16 acres eastward into a non-protected portion of the Bynan property. The parcel has a small habitat of the endangered pine barrens moth, whose larvae feed on pitch pine. IWS proposes removing that habitat and re-establishing it on a Bynan parcel north of the landfill.
SHAME member Christine Archambault of 259 Lyman Road said conservation commissioners “already made up their minds” before hearing residents’ concerns.
Fleming said the board has been meeting on the issue of establishing clear boundaries for the Bynan conservation parcel for months, holding public meetings on the matter.
“We have covered everything,” he said.
“It’s a boundary issue, as far as I’m concerned,” said board member Dennis Swartwout.
Etta Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.