Ash landfill expansion approvedThe City Council voted 5-1 Monday to allow Xcel Energy to expand its ash landfill off Bench Street in Red Wing.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
The City Council voted 5-1 Monday to allow Xcel Energy to expand its ash landfill off Bench Street in Red Wing.
The landfill stores ash created by burning garbage at the company’s incinerator and the city’s incinerator. The conditional-use permit approved Monday also allows Xcel to bring in ash from French Island in Wisconsin.
The expansion would add about 981,000 cubic yards to storage, making the landfill 2,434,800 cubic yards total.
The original landfill was approved in 1987. The “west cell” of the landfill is closed and the east portion will be filled within about four years, Planning Director Brian Peterson said. The expansion would essentially be between the two existing areas.
The process has been ongoing, including redesigns and a number of public hearings as the application was vetted by the Planning Commission.
Residents often raised concerns about the expansion, including negative effects on property values and seeing the landfill from their homes.
Xcel submitted its original application in August, Peterson said. That plan had the landfill expanding to the west, but that drew concerns from a number of residents. A revised application was resubmitted in October that showed the higher landfill between the two existing cells.
The hill-like design worried some council members, but Xcel said it is necessary to get another 20 to 25 years out of the site.
“The peak gives us the capacity that we needed,” Chuck Donkers, a geologist with Xcel, told the council Monday. The new high point on the site will be 50 feet above the current one.
Council member Dean Hove, who voted against the resolution, said he was “extremely disappointed” this application did not go through the Sustainability Commission before coming to the City Council.
He also was concerned about the effects of bringing in ash from outside the area.
“What I don’t like is to have a business that’s not doing business in this town, not paying taxes here and we’re pulling in their ash,” Hove said. “If we’re going to shorten the life of this landfill, what’s going to happen to those jobs?” he asked, noting bringing in the French Island ash will fill the landfill faster.
Peterson said there is no established process for sending applications like this to the Sustainability Commission. Council members agreed one should be developed.
Hove said there are other uses for ash that Xcel should be exploring, such as including it in concrete, asphalt and other materials.
“Hopefully in the future Xcel might be able to recapture that ash for other uses,” Council member Peggy Rehder said. “(Allowing the expansion) doesn’t mean they can’t take that ash in the future and use it.”
“This is consistent with what I’ve heard from citizens, which is that they’d rather burn than landfill,” Mayor Dennis Egan said. “The byproduct (of burning) is the ash.”
Council member Dan Bender was absent.