Rules not followed for landfill expansions in region

Posted at 11:33 PM, Dec 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-13 22:47:48-05

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)- The Central Virginia authority tasked with managing the area’s trash admits it was not following proper procedure when it approved six expansion amendments between 2005 and 2011 to the region’s solid waste management plan.

That group is called the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority.

It was created to oversee solid waste management for the following localities: City of Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Goochland, Colonial Heights, Town of Ashland, Charles City, Hanover, New Kent, Powhatan, City of Petersburg, Hopewell, Prince George

CVWMA’s executive director, Kim Hynes, openly admitted to CBS 6 Investigative Reporter Melissa Hipolit her office made a mistake.

“We’re just trying to correct a wrong,” Hynes said.

The procedural error came to light when Henrico County’s Board of Supervisors cast a vote on Tuesday in opposition to the expansion of the East End Landfill.

The county’s Board of Zoning Appeals voted in favor of the expansion back in June, and the Board of Supervisors has no authority over their decisions.

The county hopes that by taking an open opposition position on the issue, the CVWMA, the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission or the Crater Planning District Commission would decide not to approve the expansion.

Hynes told CBS6 that after the Board of Supervisors cast their vote, her office received a lot of legal questions about the process regarding landfill expansion.

She said, typically, after a Board of Zoning Appeals approves a landfill expansion, the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission and the Crater Planning District take up the issue and both individually decide to approve it or not approve it.

From there, the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority had to approve it as well.

Finally, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality needed to give its stamp of approval.

Hynes said when she took over as Executive Director of the CVWMA she was informed that was the process for landfill expansions.

However, after receiving those calls following the Henrico Board of Supervisor’s vote, the CVWMA’s legal counsel discovered the group had not been following proper procedure.

Hynes said the CVWMA’s Board of Directors should have approved the landfill expansions first, before the Planning District Commissions.

After learning the CVWMA was not using proper procedure, Hynes asked the RRPDC to defer the decision on the East End Landfill until January 24th, when the CVWMA’s Board of Directors will take up the issue.

The RRPDC agreed to defer its decision until its February meeting, to give CVWMA’s Board times to make its decision first.

CBS 6 wanted to know if the procedural mistakes will call those decisions into questions.

“I think that since they’ve been approved, and there were no issues then or now with those permits, and the DEQ has approved them, I think they will probably stand as approved,” Hynes said.

Even if they remain approved, Emanuel Harris, who lives right next to the East End Landfill and opposes the expansion, said he no longer believes in the system.

“If they are supposed to be overseeing this, I am not comfortable at all with that process,” Harris said.

Harris now wonders how anyone in Central Virginia can trust the decisions being made about where we dump our trash.

“What are they there for…why do they exist…if this is supposed to be their expertise?” Harris asked.

CBS 6 talked to The East End Landfill’s Director of Operations, Darrin Hinderliter, Friday to ask him for his reaction to CVWMA’s procedural flaw.

Hinderliter sent us this statement:

“On Monday, the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority alerted TEEL to a procedural flaw in the process for approving the proposed amendment to the CVWMA's Solid Waste Management Plan relating to TEEL’s facility.  Specifically, TEEL was informed that the procedure for amending the Solid Waste Management Plan, as set forth in the Plan itself, requires the CVWMA's board of directors to first vote on the amendment and, if approved, send the matter to the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission and Crater Planning District Commission for their approval. Since the CVWMA's board of directors has not yet considered the proposed amendment, the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission deferred the matter until its February meeting, giving the CVWMA's board of directors time to take up the matter at its January 24th meeting. TEEL has no further comment on this matter.”