A Brief Summary:
Casella Waste Systems of Rutland, Vermont has engaged the town of Bethlehem, New Hampshire (population 2500) in lawsuits for over 25 years against zoning laws restricting the dump’s growth. Then in November 2011 a Settlement Agreement was signed to end the costly lawsuits. It included the condition that the North Country Environmental Services (NCES) landfill would never seek to expand in exchange for the town changing zoning laws to allow them another 10 more acres. The article passed after a campaign by the landfill that promised lower taxes and free trash pick up. Some opponents voted yes because they believed the Settlement Agreement would finally put an end to lawyer fees, strife between community members, and limit the dump's size to 61 acres because it promised it would be capped and permanently closed in 2021.
Next In 2016
The landfill owner violated the Agreement by purchasing 123 acres of adjacent property and approached the Selectboard with a proposal to change the town’s zoning to allow for another 100 acres for their landfill that accepts trash from five state thus increasing the dump to a 161-acre landfill in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest.
The Selectboard should have reported this breach to the Grafton County Superior Court according to the Stipulation Order that states the Court would enforce it through their contempt powers, but three of the five Selectboard agreed to renegotiate the Agreement with Casella Waste for the 100 acre expansion.
Why does it need to be stopped from expanding?
Landfills are one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas. This landfill sits on top of a stratified drift aquifer and only yards away from the Ammonoosuc River. The US EPA acknowledges that all landfill liners eventually leak, it is just a matter of time that Bethlehem will be another town with contaminated water, and:
- It negatively affects the quality of life of our residents.
- Creates nauseating odors that are already smelled at homes and businesses
- Negatively affects the tourism economy the town relies on and can be seen from nearby mountaintops including: Cannon Mountain Ski Area, the Sugarloafs and Mount Washington.
- Property values are adversely affected.
To view the legal documents for 2021 go to bethlehemnh.org/archives.html (special town meeting). The 2016 documents will also be at bethlehemnh.org
Environmental Action for Northern New Hampshire
PO Box 268
Bethlehem, NH 03574