Chesterton Tribune

County drops lawsuit against Union Township compost site

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Union Township residents raised a stink over the Duneland 28 compost site during a Porter County Commissioners’ meeting in March but zero complaints in the last four months may indicate the situation has been resolved.

County Attorney Betty Knight brought the public up to speed at Tuesday’s commissioner meeting on the progress which ultimately ended with officials rescinding their public nuisance lawsuit against Duneland 28 located at 550 W CR 300N.

The county received e-mails from neighbors complaining last fall that foul odors emitted from the site were infiltrating their homes and making their way to Wheeler High School. A plan commission proposal to place additional restrictions on building up berms brought more remonstrations, including one from Union Schools Superintendent John Hunter.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management investigated the site, Knight said, and determined the source of the stench was not due to solid waste but a “large amount of grass that was not decomposing quickly enough” from August to December, 2011.

IDEM had Duneland 28 implement new management plans for handling the grass compost and since then the smells have ceased, Knight said.

Since May 1, no complaint has been lodged. Knight said if the problem had not been wiped out, it would have likely returned this summer because of the record heat.

“They (IDEM) believe the problem has been eliminated,” Knight said. She then recommended not to pursue the lawsuit for public nuisance due to lack of evidence.

County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, agreed and thanked drainage board president Dave Burrus and Plan Commission Director Bob Thompson for providing their expertise in the matter.

“I think the situation is solved. This is not the first facility where something like this has happened. We will look at this as a learning experience,” said Evans.

Knight said any further citizen concerns can be directed to Cheryl Satkus in the IDEM Northwestern Regional Office or citizens could also file their own lawsuit.

County Attorney Named

Evans announced that Knight has been accepted as the permanent replacement for the county’s attorney. She initially was brought on as the interim successor for Gwenn Rinkenberger, who resigned in February in order to accept an appointment as a county juvenile magistrate.

Knight has provided legal representation for governments in Indiana and Illinois for more than 30 years and served as a litigator for several federal and state courts.

In more appointments, the commissioners announced Michelle Smith will take the reins of the Memorial Opera House temporarily until a permanent director is named. An interim director for the Expo Center will be forthcoming, Evans said.

Both positions were manned by Brian Schafer who resigned last month. Evans said the format will return to as it was before with separate directors for the venues.

Also on Tuesday:

• Commissioner Carole Knoblock, D-South, said $856,000 in federal highway grant money will be used in her district to make the Division Road and Smoke Road intersection safer for drivers. A casualty occurred there in 1998. County engineer Ray Riddell said the Indiana Department of Transportation will help decrease the steepness of the hill that reduces visibility. Work should be completed in 2015, Riddell said.

• The board voted 3-0 on first reading to make a change in the county Unified Development Ordinance at the request of Thompson. He said the state has now made it law that county plan commissions have the ability to issue design waivers for things like a change for storm water standards. The new law overturns a previous appellate court decision that design waivers be given by the county board of appeals.

 

Posted 8/8/2012