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Casella Applies For State Wetlands Permit To Build North Country Landfill

Annie Ropeik

Casella has filed its first formal application to build a new landfill in the North Country – a major step forward for a controversial project that’s been in the works for more than a year.

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The state received a wetlands permit application last week from Granite State Landfill, a subsidiary of Vermont-based Casella. Local organizers say the company has also begun formally notifying the site’s neighbors of the plan.

They propose a “modern lined landfill” in the town of Dalton with a lifespan of about 38 years and a capacity of 23 million cubic yards of trash.

Preliminary plans say the project would cover 180 acres total, on land that also houses a gravel pit. In their application, Casella says they need the wetlands permit because the project would affect about 16 acres of mostly forested wetlands, and 1,500 feet of mostly intermittent streams.

Casella argues the project is necessary, after voters in neighboring Bethlehem twice rejected an expansion of the company's existing dump. Casella says they'll run out of space for the region's trash in the next several years without a new facility.

Opponents say the region should instead prioritize waste reduction, to avoid the planet-warming emissions and other negative effects of landfills.

Dalton residents also organized to vote in a temporary local zoning regimen that seeks to give them a say in whether the landfill moves forward. The project would abut Forest Lake State Park, and they say they’re worried about property values, tourism and environmental impacts.

The town is set to decide on whether and how to make that zoning permanent at town meeting next spring. The DES permit, meanwhile, is still an early step in a project that could take years to complete.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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