County to Pursue Adjacent Properties for Landfill Expansion

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead County Commission gave the green light to move forward with the purchases of 14 properties adjacent to the county landfill in preparation for future expansion.

The unanimous vote from the commission came during a May 16 hearing, and authorizes county staff to begin drawing up the sale contracts regarding the properties.

Fourteen different landowners own the properties, set in parcels in a neighborhood near the southwest corner of the landfill. The county also looked at an alternative property, over 500 acres located across Prairie View Road and owned by one source.

Flathead County has been considering the two options for future landfill expansion for over a year. The current landfill, which has 275 acres for approved use, is projected to fill up by 2055. The county’s long-term waste management plan, which extends to the year 2108, projects an increase in waste and households in the valley in the next century.

Expansion will likely be necessary, the plan indicated.

With that in mind, the county began looking into purchasing property near the landfill. It has been an emotional process for many of the landowners, with several expressing sadness at potentially losing their family homes and others refuting the appraisal values of their properties.

Last year, the county sent out letters to the landowners that asked for their interest levels in selling, while also outlining several options for the landowners, including flat-out selling their property or not, as well as the option to sell to the county while maintaining a lease on the property until expansion takes place.

The discussion on landfill expansion in the past year has also prompted conversations on the county’s recycling abilities, and has drawn calls for a smarter, more-efficient landfill.

At the May 16 meeting, Flathead County Public Works Director Dave Prunty told the commissioners that he has met with 12 of the landowners in question, and it appears that nearly everyone is interested in selling.

Most are interested in new property appraisals, Prunty said.

Commissioners Pam Holmquist, Gary Krueger and Cal Scott voted to give county staff permission to begin pursuing the 14 parcels.

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