Chesterton Tribune

ArcelorMittal landfill hearing set for March 20 in Burns Harbor

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By PAULENE POPARAD

At ArcelorMittal’s request, the Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission agreed to schedule a March 20 public hearing on an excavation permit tied to construction of Mittal’s Deerfield industrial-waste landfill at the U.S. 12 steel plant.

The Plan Commission’s next regular meeting is April 2. Vote to schedule the public hearing was 6-0 with Jan Hines absent.

The cost to Mittal is $650 for a special meeting, but Wendlene Lavey of Squire Sanders law firm in Cleveland said the steelmaker is on a tight timeframe and needs to start landfill construction in early April so the project can be completed by year’s end.

Associate town attorney Charles Parkinson said once the Plan Commission makes a decision on the excavation permit, there is a 10-day waiting period during which an appeal can be filed with the Town Council.

Mittal previously attempted to schedule the public hearing in September, 2011 but didn’t pursue the matter further at that time.

Lavey emphasized Monday that unlike its 2011 petition, this time no second excavation permit is being sought to mine clay on 187 acres Mittal owns west of Praxair beyond the west end of Navajo Trail, a town street; the clay would have been used to line the Deerfield waste facility.

“We haven’t completely abandoned the possibility (of the borrow pit) but it’s a back-up plan, a Plan B,” Lavey told commission members.

Mittal’s application on file now shows a truck route with the clay coming from the local borrow pit, said commission member Terry Swanson. Steve Putrich of CEC, the landfill’s consulting engineers, said that is in error and will be corrected. But where the liner material actually would come from wasn’t answered.

Construction of the landfill is being done under a permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Lavey gave the commission CDs containing Mittal’s submissions to IDEM, and she said a copy of the permit itself will be sent to town officials.

Commission member Jim McGee said it’s important to understand the March 20 public hearing is on the town excavation permit for Phase 1 of the Deerfield landfill only. “We have different questions overlapping that I don’t want to get mixed up.”

The landfill was the subject of previous petitions before Burns Harbor zoning boards in 2007 and 2009. At least 13 conditions were tied to those approvals, and Lavey confirmed Monday those restrictions will continue to apply.

Hesham Khalil of town engineer Global Engineering and Land Surveying provided his questions and comments regarding the pending excavation permit, and Khalil noted the town will require additional information for its separate building permit yet to be issued.

Commission member Gene Weibl quizzed Lavey whether landfill construction actually has begun, saying trees have been cleared and the original grade already modified. “Our big taxpayer to the north has a habit of doing what they want and seeing if we catch them later. I for one won’t tolerate this,” said Weibl, urging Mittal to contact building commissioner Bill Arney.

Weibl also said a lot of trucks with big, blue trailers have been coming in and out of the steel plant and he will want to know at the public hearing what’s in the trailers.

In other business last night, the commission renewed its running discussion with builder John Miller over stormwater management for several lots he purchased in Parkwood Estates subdivision between Haglund Road and Interstate 94 west of Lakeland Park. Miller now wants to change the drainage plan for one lot only on which he’s built a house.

Khalil said he couldn’t verify the drainage information presented to him last night, and there was discussion whether Miller was seeking a waiver from town standards or would need to amend the subdivision plat. In either case that’s not something town staff could do on their own, said Parkinson.

 

Posted 3/6/2012