Authority: Artist Jeff Koons among group appealing Lancaster landfill expansionAppeal could delay construction at Frey Farm Landfill in Lancaster County
A group of local property owners, including artist Jeff Koons, filed an appeal Aug. 24 against a permit that would allow the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority to expand its landfill in Manor Township, the authority reported last week.
The appeal alleges that the state Department of Environmental Protection should not have approved the landfill project because it did not adequately address concerns about the project's safety and environmental impact.
The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority started the expansion process in 2015 at Frey Farm landfill, arguing it will need more space for the county's waste in the coming years. The $56 million project would add 50 feet in height to the current landfill and 9 acres in width, meeting the county's projected waste management needs for another 18 to 20 years.
The expansion received its final approval from the state in July and was expected to start operations in 2019.
Members of the group that filed the appeal have repeatedly objected to the proposed expansion over the past several years, saying, among other concerns, that the addition would be aesthetically off-putting, make the ground less stable and become a potential environmental hazard to the Susquehanna River, which the landfill abuts.
J. Dwight Yoder, a Lancaster County-based attorney representing the appellants, said his clients believe the DEP made a "terrible mistake" in giving the waste authority the OK to begin construction.
The group filing the appeal includes business and property owners on both sides of the river, as well as environmental group Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna.
Koons, an internationally known artist famous for his stainless steel sculptures of balloon animals, is reportedly among the group of landowners.
The York County native has over the years scooped up hundreds of acres of property throughout the region, telling media outlets he hopes to preserve it for future generations. He previously expressed reservations about a proposed dam near his property in Chanceford Township, York County, and, even before the waste authority proposed the landfill expansion, said he did not approve of two white wind turbines visible on the Frey Farm property.
Yoder neither confirmed nor denied that Koons is one of the appellants, but the waste authority claims Koons is the force behind two limited partnerships listed on the appeal: Stone Fence Acres LP and Farmland Preservation LP. Other publications have previously linked Koons to Stone Fence Acres.
In a news release Friday, the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority vehemently denied the accusations raised in the appeal, and particularly objected to Koons' reported involvement in the opposition. The authority, the release states, rightfully attained all the necessary approvals for the project not just from the state but also from Manor Township.
The authority goes on to note that the landfill has not received any citations from the DEP in 25 years, and that stopping the expansion could cause more harm than good to the county's residents.
"Revocation of the permit would put the entire system, and future of waste management in Lancaster County, at risk," the release states. "Such a development could mean a financial impact of $10 million annually, translating into a 30 percent increase in refuse disposal fees."
The DEP declined to comment, citing a policy against speaking about litigation.
The solid waste authority plans to fight the appeal in a process it says will start in October and could take up to two years to resolve. The authority's board of directors will determine over the coming weeks whether they want to continue with their original plans to begin construction this fall.
The appeal will be worked out with the state's Environmental Hearing Board, a group that operates independently of the DEP to handle such issues.