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Earthmovers gets OK to excavate soil for capping landfill

The Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals granted a special use permit Thursday, Nov. 21, to allow Earthmovers Landfill LLC to excavate dirt at a property south of Elkhart.

Posted on Nov. 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 21, 2013 at 3:21 p.m.

GOSHEN — Owners of a company that operates a landfill south of Elkhart are ready to get their hands dirty.

Waste Management of Indiana, also known as Earthmovers Landfill LLC, has been approved for a 10-year special use permit that will allow the company to excavate soil from a 65-acre property on the northeast corner of C.R. 9 and C.R. 26. The soil will be used to cap a nearby landfill operated by Earthmovers southwest of the excavation site.

The Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals held a public hearing Thursday, Nov. 21, where neighboring landowners spoke out against Earthmovers’ plans.

“The residents in this area, landowners in this area, have had to deal with a good bit of penalty for being close to this thing,” said Tim Howard, who lives near the future excavation site. “The dirt on the streets if you drive down C.R. 26 on a rainy day is like a dirt road. You can’t keep a car clean.”

Howard and his wife have owned a property east of the land where Earthmovers plans to excavate soil for 12 years. Howard said he was told that the landfill would be closed by now.

Tammy Perkins, a consultant for Earthmovers, told the county board that the life of the landfill was extended because of fluctuating waste intake rates. She estimated that the landfill will be retired in about 10 years.

The excavation will result in a 30-acre hole up to 25 feet deep that Perkins said would be turned into a pond. The property may be donated for nonprofit or public use once excavation is complete, according to conditions in Earthmovers’ special use permit.

Jon Grove, who lives near the northern part of the Earthmovers excavation site, said his top concern is declining property values.

“I spent 45 minutes to an hour online, and I found dozens and dozens of articles and surveys from professional real estate appraisers that have similar situations with excavation sites going in a neighborhood and property values decreasing anywhere from 25 to 60 percent because of that,” Grove said. “I’m not prepared to lose tens of thousands of dollars of my property value because of this site going in.”

Earthmovers will buffer the northern and western borders of the property with evergreen trees, and work equipment — bulldozers, excavators and haul trucks — will not be stored on the property, Perkins said. Excavation will not happen daily, but the hours of operation will be limited to 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, she added.

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