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Dalton Residents Seek New Zoning Laws to Keep Landfill Out

Much of the trash in New Hampshire's landfills comes from out-of-state sources. (New Hampshire State Parks)
Much of the trash in New Hampshire's landfills comes from out-of-state sources. (New Hampshire State Parks)
July 19, 2019

DALTON, N.H. – Residents of a small North Country town are organizing against a proposed landfill near their beloved Forest Lake.

Vermont-based Casella Waste Systems has run out of room at its Bethlehem landfill, and after residents there voted to keep the company from expanding its capacity, it turned to Dalton as a potential landfill site. Now, Dalton residents with the group Save Forest Lake want new zoning laws that would keep Casella from moving forward with its plans.

The group's founder, Jon Swan, says the proposed landfill is too close to the lake. They're concerned that it will have a negative impact on the environment and the tourism industry.

"If you look at most landfills, they seem to have problems with contamination, air pollution, odors,” says Swan. “Noise as well, just from the heavy machinery."

A vote on the new zoning ordinance will take place at a special town meeting on July 30. Residents can learn more at an informational hearing next Tuesday evening, July 23, at 7 p.m. in the municipal building gymnasium.

Environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit against Casella last year, alleging the Bethlehem landfill contaminated the Ammonoosuc River. Swan is worried the same thing will happen in Dalton.

But he says he understands the trash needs to go somewhere, which has made him rethink his own habits.

"It's definitely altered your outlook on trash and waste, and what you buy,” says Swan. “It makes you re-evaluate 'stuff.'"

A Casella executive has said that, regardless of the outcome of the Dalton zoning vote, the company will need more landfill space in northern New England within the next several years.

Jenn Stanley, Public News Service - NH