Thursday, August 25, 2005

Next Steps - County supervisors decided by a 3-2 margin on Tuesday to allow the dump to grow from 320 acres to 580 acres.

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Aug 24, 2005 - 10:31:03 pm PDT

Details remain in landfill expansion

By Barry Eberling

- Bulldozers won't begin grading land for the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion just yet.

County supervisors decided by a 3-2 margin on Tuesday to allow the dump to grow from 320 acres to 580 acres. County staff is preparing the necessary resolutions for an official vote. That could come at the Sept. 13 board meeting and would seem to be a mere formality.

Still, Republic Services has several more steps to take before it can enlarge the dump in the hills southeast of Suisun City. The dump serves Fairfield, Suisun City and Rio Vista, as well as numerous communities within a 150-mile radius.

The spotlight could next shine on the 27-member San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which oversees development in areas near the region's bays. It also oversees laws protecting Suisun Marsh, the largest remaining wetlands area in the state.

Potrero Hills Landfill is nestled amid hills that are within the Suisun Marsh protection area, as defined by state and local laws. The Board of Supervisors intends to issue a marsh permit needed to expand the dump. Opponents to the expansion say they will appeal the marsh permit to BCDC.

Staff from BCDC has already commented on the project. Executive Director Will Travis sent a letter to the county saying the Potrero Hills expansion could hurt Suisun Marsh. The upland hills are important to marsh wildlife, he wrote.

"Overall, the proposed project would result in significant industrial and construction activities in Potrero Hills for the coming 45 to 75 years," Travis wrote.

But the commission itself has yet to take a position. Supervisor Barbara Kondylis, who opposes the expansion and voted against it, is Solano County's representative on BCDC. Supervisor John Silva, who favors the expansion, is the alternate.

Kondylis said she will ask Silva to represent Solano County at the meeting concerning Potrero Hills, should the appeal be filed. That's because he agrees with the county's official position.

"I could go there and vote any way I want, but that wouldn't be appropriate," Kondylis said.

Commissioners will soon get the chance to see Suisun Marsh for themselves. They will take a bus tour of the marsh at 10 a.m. Sept. 1.

Kondylis suggested having the tour because so many of the commissioners are new, she said. She had anticipated the Potrero Hills issue might end up before the commission, she said.

The public can also take the tour. People should call Estella Corona at (415) 352-3600 no later than Friday to reserve a seat on the bus.

Commissioners will meet at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Solano County Government Center at 675 Texas St. Among the topics for the meeting is a briefing on the importance of Suisun Marsh.

The tour and meeting were scheduled before the Board of Supervisors agreed to allow the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion. BCDC as of yet has no appeal on the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion before it.

Republic Services will need still more permits to expand the dump. Among the agencies it must work with are the state Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California Integrated Waste Management Board and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Staff from some of these agencies have already submitted comments to the county. For example, Fish and Game said it has concerns about the use of falcons at the dump to keep away seagulls.

Potrero Hills Landfill owners say the dump will fill up in eight to 10 years unless it is enlarged.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

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