County removes exemption at Smuggler Superfund site, but reduces dumping fee
After years of exemption from fees for dumping contaminated dirt at the Pitkin County Landfill, landowners on the Smuggler Superfund site now must pay to dump, though at a reduced rate.The county instituted the fees but gave an exemption – Commissioner Mick Ireland voted no and Commissioner Patti Clapper abstained because she lives in the area – in order to spare Smuggler homeowners the difficulty of paying the full dumping fees.”The people in the trailer park have put up with a lot because we are Superfund-stigmatized,” said Clapper, who stepped out of the voting only after Commissioner Jack Hatfield pointed out that she had economic interest in the outcome. The Smuggler Superfund site – encompassing much of the land from Smuggler Mountain down to the Roaring Fork River in Aspen, and including all of Fox Crossing and the Smuggler Mobile Home Park – has contaminated soil.The decision gives all landowners in the Superfund site the ability to dump 450 cubic yards of contaminated soil – roughly equivalent to a 1,200-square-foot basement – at the same price as if the soil were not contaminated. A Smuggler landowner can save up to $5,850 with this exemption. The fee for dumping contaminated soil at the county landfill is $21 per cubic yard, while the fee for dumping uncontaminated soil is $8 per cubic yard. The reason for the difference is that contaminated soil has a higher liability for the county if there is ever a need to remediate contamination.Up until this point, the county has ignored all fees for anyone in the Superfund site. The commissioners’ move was an attempt to recoup some of the costs of dumping contaminated soil. Landfill director Chris Hoofnagle recognized that the county will be responsible for the remediation costs of the contaminated dirt. At one point, Ireland tried to limit the exemption to people in the mobile home park, but his resolution did not pass. “I don’t think we should be bailing out millionaires,” he said. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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It’s hard to fight City Hall and even harder to fight well-funded neighbors who don’t want any development near them, a local man has realized. So he settled for less than what he and his partner bought the property for.