Letter: Resident Says 'YES' to Landfill Expansion

Lower Saucon Township resident Kerry Kulp says IESI Bethlehem Landfill has been a good neighbor and an important contributor to the local economy.

Editor's Note: The following letter was written in response to .

Landfills are--and always will be--a very polarizing issue. Nobody, given the choice, would ask to have a landfill built in their backyard. However, we're not talking about building a new landfill. We're talking about expanding an existing landfill. The property in question will be a landfill forever. That can't be changed.

I have lived in Steel City and Lower Saucon Township for the last 14 years and have not had a single occasion to complain about the operation of the landfill. No smell. No noise. Nothing. Rather, the landfill has operated as a good neighbor and township citizen. That's not to say that no problems have occurred. Rainwater runoff and muddy washouts were discussed at great length during the last fact-finding council meeting. Mud and rocks on a roadway are absolutely a problem. Discussions about leachate detection and management are quite valid and were addressed at the last meeting. But the problems, in this case, have an owner that takes responsibility.

If this discussion were about building a new landfill on pristine land I would join others in saying NO. But it's not. We're talking about land that is already a landfill and is not suitable for any other use.

We're not talking about a landfill with operational issues or a long list of documented infractions or safety violations. Quite the opposite... We're talking about a landfill that is run responsibly and according to all applicable guidelines.

We're talking about a local employer that is providing income and benefits to a number of our township neighbors.

We're talking about a company that is contributing significantly to the economies of the township and the greater Lehigh Valley as a whole.

We're talking about an organization that is contributing approximately 30 percent of the overall township revenue. 

For all of these reasons, I say YES to the rezoning and expansion of the landfill.

Kerry Kulp

Lower Saucon Township

sc citizen October 16, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I say YES also - for many of the same reasons you discussed. In addition- where are we to dispose of our garbage if the landfill closes? And what will that cost us? Maybe we all need to fire up a burn barrel like so many of the opposition do. By the way- I can smell your burn barrels from my house!
Louise October 17, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Ms. Kulp, you said it all, BRAVO to you. Your letter states the true facts. Why should 75 to 100 residents make a decision in a Township with over 10,000 residents. Lower Saucon Township residents, get out there and support IESI and have Town Council say yes to rezoning. http://bethlehemlandfill.com/
rocky October 17, 2012 at 07:57 AM
I also live in steel city. However the land in question is pristinevl land that is not landfill rich now and could be useable for anything. Secondly. The township has approx 1 million in debt service that ends about the time the landfill is scheduled to close bringing that 30%number you speak about to approx 16% when the landfill closes. Futrthermore I purchased my property and built a home in steel city knowing that dump had a very limited life and that it would be capped and closed. I and my children visit the top of that mountain all the time and ruining it is a discrace. This may not be about opening a new dump but it is completley about ruining land that is not currently part of it. Rocco Viscito Steel city resident
rocky October 17, 2012 at 07:58 AM
rocky October 17, 2012 at 08:13 AM
Id like to restate the budget number in another way. The budget includes approx 1 million in debt service so when it ends and the dump closes the net realized loss will be only approx 16% of the budget not 30% like I keep hearing
sc citizen October 17, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Oh- so a 16% increase makes it so much more affordable. Tell that to your neighbors on a fixed income. No wonder this country is going downhill. Why don't we close down all the businesses and ship everything over to China!
Kerry Kulp October 17, 2012 at 07:53 PM
The 30% reference was in regard to township revenue, not spending. While those debt payments you reference will end at or around the time the landfill is currently scheduled to close, the revenue would remain and can be put to use elsewhere in the budget. Should the landfill be permitted to expand and the host fees remain the same, that $2 million per year of revenue could be used to lower township resident taxes or to save for future capital expenditures that may come after the landfill does finally close. $20 million additional dollars in the coffers over ten years can't hurt...
rocky October 18, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Its funny everyone seems surprised about this tax increase that is going to happen yet the zoning has been in place and the fact that the landfill was going to run out of space has been known since they got the permits. Those of us opposed to the expansion are not asking for something other than what the original plan was. If someone bought here knowing there was a landfill then they also should have known that taxes were going to go up when it ran out if room to operate. We have not asked town council to close the landfill early rather we are asking them to stick to the plan that was designed years ago that was not opposed then. Do I want a tax increase? The obvious answer is no however I understood that that landfill was going to run out of land sooner than later and knew this was coming. Anyone who didn't see this coming is blind.
Louise October 18, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Things do change, plans do change. Are you going to pay our tax increases.
Kerry Kulp October 18, 2012 at 12:16 PM
For the sake of discussion, let's take the potential tax increase out of the equation. This is a fiscal responsibility issue. The township council has an obligation to the whole of Lower Saucon Township to make prudent, responsible fiscal decisions. The township as a whole has already dealt with the issues and burden of hosting a landfill. There would not appear to be any additional burden as a result of the expansion of this already existing landfill. Truck traffic will not increase. Noise will not increase. Odor will not increase (as that is the result of open cells only). The only thing that will increase is the revenue earned by the township as a result of landfill expansion. I fully understand the concerns expressed by the opposition but this is a question of what is right for all of Lower Saucon Township. Not just a few.
rocky October 18, 2012 at 07:33 PM
So without the tax increase on the table, you still talk about money... It's all about the money, and as you put it- you fully understand the concerns, but is it your children they are moving closer too, is it your health being put at risk, or just the money they are putting in your pocket(or saving you-its about the same thing)? And by the way, they are asking for an increase in truck traffic, which will probably mean more revenue, making it even harder in 10 more years to close this dump due to greedy people who are only concerned about their pocket, and with attitudes like yours, they will ruin the entire side of the mountain bringing them, their noise, truck traffic, radiation, leachate, and associated health risks for god knows how much longer, closer and closer to my family.
rocky October 18, 2012 at 07:33 PM
As long as there is a dump there it is not likely any other business will atempt to move in because the dump is willing to pay amazingly inflated prices for the land. This will continue until there is no more land to be used, and as long as they know there are people who will continue to support them. No thought to the fact that every acre they use can never again be used, and that in the end we end up with dead land that will never bring in income again. So in the short run we are ok with doing whats "right" for the town- keeping the revenue coming for now, but is not irresposible to ignore the future of having the area unusable and never having rateables in that area again. I guess we all have different ideas of whats right for all of Lower Saucon Township.
rocky October 18, 2012 at 07:42 PM
to Louise, are you or your children close enough to this landfill to have health issues? are you going to be by my side if one of them has health issues and pay those bills, or... Its ok for the dump and its associated health risks and noise to move closer to me, just so long as your taxes don't go up. Heres to the future of humanity
Kerry Kulp October 18, 2012 at 07:56 PM
To some degree, everything is about money at some level. In this case, it's about our township losing a tremendous source of revenue that can be put to many good uses. Keeping resident taxes low is a nice benefit but it's not the only thing that money is good for. I'd be happy if they did nothing other than sock the money away in a rainy day fund. In addition, the continual argument that our debt will be paid off is meaningless unless the township agrees not to enter into any new capital projects. We know that's not going to happen so revenue is always needed. I would stand right next to you in opposition if there was any documented concern for human health or safety. But, while nothing is absolute, all testimony has been to the contrary. I suspect that the trains transporting dangerous substances through Steel City residents backyards pose a much greater risk to public health and safety than the landfill...


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