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Debate Over Lorton Landfill Continues at Public Hearing

Decision on application deferred until March 13.

An aerial view of the Lorton landfill. The landfill is owned by EnviroSolutions.

An aerial view of the Lorton landfill. The landfill is owned by EnviroSolutions. Photo by Roger Snyder

The debate over the future of the Lorton landfill continued as community members commented before the Fairfax County Planning Commission at a public hearing on Feb. 27.

Over 50 people signed up to speak on the EnviroSolutions application to extend landfill operations until 2040, with the meeting going into the early hours of the morning.

EnviroSolutions, who owns the Lorton landfill, is applying for permission to widen the landfill and continue operations until 2040.

EnviroSolutions’ proposed green energy triangle at the site of the landfill, which includes the development of geothermal energy, three wind turbines, and solar panels, was a major topic at the hearing.

SUPPORTERS cited the green energy as being beneficial for the county, as well as EnviroSolutions’ commitment to providing the community with $18 million, given out in increments over the course of two decades between 2019 and 2040.

Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, which endorses the EnviroSolutions application to extend the landfill, said that a green energy triangle will enhance the county’s reputation.

“The green energy park triangle proposal will allow Fairfax County to move forward with green energy production,” Corcoran said at the hearing.

Corcoran also said that the application provides a long-term solution for the disposal of Fairfax County’s construction debris.

Earl Flanagan, the Mount Vernon representative to the planning commission, asked Corcoran if the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce would still support the application if the green energy component was not approved.

“There would have to be alternative looks at how we could have additional renewable energy,” Corcoran answered.

Others are not convinced that EnviroSolutions will commit to its promises of providing green energy.

“We’re here because of broken promises, and this is a new set of promises,” said Nicholas Firth, president of the South County Federation.

Firth is referring to a 2006 EnviroSolutions application to close the landfill by 2019 and build a park, which the company says is not possible due to public safety concerns.

Neal McBride, an activist and Springfield resident who represents the Newington Forest Community for the South County Federation and Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations, spoke in favor of the application at the hearing.

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Planning Commission members Earl Flanagan, John L. Litzenberger and Janyce Hedetniemi at the public hearing for the EnviroSolutions application to extend landfill operations until 2040 on Feb. 27.

“If the landfill closes, it doesn’t go away. It will be a closed landfill facility,” McBride said.

Greg Budnick, a civil engineer who has lived in Fairfax County for over 25 years, said that all planning commission members and supervisors should examine not if the application can be approved, but should it be approved.

“The current application simply does not appear to be improving our county,” Budnick said. “In my capacity as an engineer involved in land planning and development, I’ve seen this county perform great feats of improving and revitalizing communities and decayed urban cores, and even securing the closure and removal of an entire prison.”

Budnick said that Fairfax County, as one of the richest counties in the United States, should consider other options.

THE PLANNING COMMISSION deferred their decision until March 13, when they will make their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. The Fairfax County zoning staff has recommended approval of the application.