Facing an appeal to the state by famous artist and York County native Jeffrey Koons, the county waste authority will vote next week on whether to break ground on a $56 million vertical expansion of the county landfill along the Susquehanna River.
The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority has said it needs to begin the project promptly if the county is to have space for its trash by the time the current Frey Farm Landfill on top of Turkey Point is full in 2019.
The authority board will meet on Sept. 15 to decide whether to break ground despite the appeal before the Environmental Hearing Board, which could take 18 to 24 months for a ruling.
The state Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit for the project to the authority on July 29. Manor Township also has approved zoning changes to allow the project.
But a small group of mostly York County residents, led by Koons who has a farm directly across from the landfill, has appealed the permit to the state’s hearing board.
In the appeal, opponents charge that DEP issued the permit without addressing serious environmental concerns if the landfill is expanded upward with earthen walls.
The appeal calls DEP’s issuance of the permit “arbitrary” and an “abuse of discretion” that was not supported by the evidence.
Opponents claim raising the landfill by 50 feet would be an eyesore for recreational river users, would cause truck traffic problems and could eventually fail in an earthquake or over time, causing waste to slide into the river.
The authority issued a news release Friday vowing to “vigorously defend its permit.”
James Warner, the authority’s chief executive officer, said “It’s unfortunate that Jeffrey Koons considers the view from his property more important than the disposal needs of over 500,000 Lancaster County residents. Due to Koons’ visual preference, defending our permit will cost upwards of $1 million of public money.”
Warner said the authority “is prepared and well-positioned to defend this permit, and will do so jointly with DEP. We have every confidence the EHB will affirm DEP’s decision.”
Warner called the appeal “a few dissenting voices from across the river."
Dwight Yoder, attorney for Koons and opponents, told LNP Friday evening that DEP's approval "was a terrible mistake."
DEP, he said, "ignored overwhelming evidence that the proposed vertical expansion on top of Turkey Hill point, and perched on top of a steep dropoff next to the Susquehanna River, poses a very serious risk to the entire lower Susquehanna River corridor and the surrounding community."
Koons, a modern sculptor best known for his Balloon Dogs sculptures, owns his grandfather’s farm in York County across the river from the landfill. In 2013, the artist’s “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sculpture sold for $58.4 million at a Christie’s auction, the most money ever paid for a work by a living artist.
The Environmental Hearing Board, composed of five judges, operates like a court for persons or corporations displeased with DEP actions.