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Republic Services Backs Down on Chicken Request and Indefinite Contract

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Tim Jagielo
Attendees to the December 15 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting in the Vanderburgh County building raise their hands, indicating they'd like to make a public comment. This includes Shawn Spencer wearing the black sweatshirt. He said the news they are dropping the chicken-waste -request "Outstanding."

Laubscher Meadows Landfill managers dropped proposals to accept chicken waste from 10 additional counties, agreed to 5-year contract following resident petitions and concerns

“That was a draw,” said attorney Mike Shopmeyer with a smile, as he exited the meeting on Thursday afternoon.

A few minutes before, the Vanderburgh County Zoning Board of Appeals approved a new contract for the use of the Laubscher Meadows Landfill in Vanderburgh County, just outside the city of Evansville Limits.

Shopmeyer represents Republic Services, who runs the landfill. The ZBOA made a motion to approve the 2022 permit request but it looked a lot different from Republic's original request.

The biggest thing might have been dropping the proposal to accept animal waste — namely chicken waste — from 10 additional counties including counties in Kentucky.

“Listening to what they said, reading their petitions — we hear them,” Shopmeyer said. “We’re trying to listen to the public. You have to serve them.”

He spoke directly to the crowd that completely filled the county room 307 of the County Building. Many in the room were geared up to fight the request to accept additional chicken waste, when Shopmeyer surprised the crowd by telling them they’re dropping the request.

The original plan was to make them more competitive as a regional landfill to accept chicken waste from major poultry producers.

The 500-signiture-petition to stop the activity was gathered just last weekend by concerned residents, and it proved to be a compelling factor.

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Tim Jagielo
Nearby homeowner Jim Woodard addresses the ZBOA. He was still concerned about what describes as poor landfill management from Republic Services.

Jim Woodard led the petition and public information effort. “We know that they conceded it because of the great public pressure that we were able to generate,” he said. “But I thought many of their answers were tap-dancing.”

Homeowners also brought concerns about the smell, dirty roads leading out of the landfill and of "capping" or covering waste properly. Many of the concerns were addressed by Shopmeyer and Todd Chamberlain, who handles government relations for Republic Services.

The public also sought better communications in the future — many weren’t aware of the upcoming proposal because Republic services is only required to notify property owners immediately next to the landfill.

Also based on resident comments — the ZBOA modified the motion to bring the landfill managers back to the table in five years. They agreed to drop their request to run the landfill indefinitely.

This motion essentially re-ups the 2017 agreement which expanded sources of waste for the landfill.

Homeowners can reach out to the Indiana Office of Land Quality for complaints at 317-232-8941.

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Tim Jagielo
Todd Chamberlain of Republic Services speaks to the ZBOA, with Mike Shopmeyer (right.) Chamberlain said the landfill has another 20-25 years of life, or more depending on how it is managed and how much material is diverted from the landfill.