Tonnage increase for Medora Landfill approved


The Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals recently approved a request from Rumpke of Indiana LLC to increase the amount of daily tonnage that the Medora Landfill can accept.

The change means the landfill will now be permitted to receive 3,000 tons of material per day instead of 2,000 for a six-day workweek.

The Cincinnati, Ohio-based company currently accepts material from residents and businesses within a 75-mile radius of the landfill at 546 S. County Road 870W. According to the company’s application with the county for the increase, the request stems from an increase in customers and other waste companies exiting the marketplace.

The Medora Landfill was established in 1971, and Rumpke purchased the site in 1983. The landfill currently has 85 employees, including truck drivers, heavy machine operators and office personnel. The site consists of 1,100 total acres with 174 acres permitted for waste disposal.

In 2021, the county approved a request for Rumpke to increase the amount of waste it accepts per day. The amendment allowed an extra 500 tons per day at the landfill and increased the annual permitted tonnage to 624,000.

Landfill Manager Brad Marlow told the five-member BZA during a meeting May 9 that the landfill received 538,257 tons this past year, and with the growth in the area, that amount could mirror or increase within the next four months of 2023.

Marlow said the reason for the big jump is not only due to the growth in the area but other Jackson County companies wanting to conduct business with the landfill.

“It’s impossible to predict a big cleanup or natural disaster, but in being transparent, we believe that the 1,000-ton increase will hold us over for a while,” he said.

Marlow said this increase, however, will shorten the lifespan of the landfill by 10 years, taking the years of operation to 20 years instead of 30.

Marlow said they have the land to expand the landfill but are not permitted to use it for waste disposal.

With this increase of daily tons received, the landfill also will see a 33% increase in traffic of Rumpke trucks through the county.

Board member Don Cummings discussed a concern regarding the increase in traffic of out-of-state trucks damaging the county roads that do not pay in-state taxes.

Marlow said most of the trucks going to the landfill travel U.S. 50 until they turn onto the county road, but he was not sure of the percentage of out-of-state trucks that come through the county at the moment.

So what happens when the Medora Landfill becomes full in 20 years?

Marlow said he predicts they will still have enough disposal capacity by then. By law, Rumpke is responsible to close, monitor and maintain the site.

Marlow said in the instance they do not expand or aren’t allowed to, the county will have to transfer its waste to a regional facility that is able to receive that amount of waste. Greensburg would be the nearest landfill at this time.

Marlow said there are smaller landfills surrounding the county, such as a facility in Salem, but it’s owned by Washington County.

Marlow said currently, about 40 to 50 acres of the permitted land has not been developed yet. Rumpke has set aside around 200 more acres that could be used for waste disposal, but it has not been permitted to use that land yet.

The board then turned to the audience for anyone to speak in favor or opposition of the tonnage increase.

Tom Willcutt said Rumpke is a great asset to the community as it gives back through a local charity and to the county. He owned the landfill before selling it to Rumpke and also later worked for Rumpke.

Currently, Rumpke commits 10 cents per ton to the Owen-Carr Township Community Fund, and Jackson County receives a tipping fee of $1 per ton of waste disposed at the landfill.

With this increase, it allows for the potential funding of up to $936,000 per year to the county and $93,000 per year to the township fund.

Medora resident Dick Clampitt also spoke in favor of the increase, pointing out the impact the business has had on Carr and Owen townships.

“They have been a blessing in the community and helped us with building a new facility for our conservation club,” he said of the Carr Township Conservation Club just west of Medora.

Clampitt said it’s a great thing when there are people who step up in the community to help those in need, and Rumpke’s help is an example of that.

Medora resident Mike Weir also spoke in favor of Rumpke’s request as he listed the many organizations the Owen-Carr Township Community Fund has been able to grant funds to because of Rumpke’s help.

Weir listed organizations such as the Jackson County Dog Shelter, Girls Inc. of Jackson County, Jackson County History Center and Jackson County United Way, to name a few.

Rumpke’s donations also were able to help fund community projects and departments within Owen and Carr townships.

Debbie Hackman, executive director of the Jackson County Solid Waste Management District, also sent in a letter of support regarding the tonnage increase.

One audience member spoke in opposition to the tonnage increase due to the amount of trash that he picks up at his residence that’s east of the landfill.

Robert Curry said he is concerned about the large amount of trash that comes off of the trucks and lands in his yard, which makes it difficult when he mows.

Curry said he is not opposed of the landfill or its request to increase but would like to see someone pick up the trash along his property.

Curry proposed a trash cleanup along his property every two weeks from April to November established in the amendment.

Marlow addressed Curry’s concern, saying Rumpke would like to be a good neighbor, but not every truck loses paper and is not the sole contributor to the issue.

Marlow said Rumpke has picked up trash along his property in the past and proposed a quarterly schedule with Curry or as needed.

“We will keep an eye on it, and if Mr. Curry has any concerns, he is able to reach out to me personally,” Marlow said.

Building Commissioner Conner Barnette said establishing a condition in the amendment for a scheduled trash cleanup sounds like a good idea, but he does not have the time to investigate the situation if it becomes a chronic issue.

“If it becomes a chronic issue where there are only three pieces of trash on the property, I do not have the time to travel to Rumpke every two weeks to make sure this is being enforced,” he said. “I am more than happy to listen to Curry’s concerns and have a conversation with Brad if this becomes more of an issue.”

Rumpke’s increase in daily tonnage to 3,000 tons per day was approved by the board 5-0.

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