Town meeting voters in Bethlehem have rejected a plan to expand a North Country landfill.
The Casella-owned facility serves a large part of the region and is on track to fill up by 2021.
Jim McCann was one of about 600 Bethlehem residents who voted against the expansion proposal, with about 500 residents voting for it. This is the second year in a row the matter has been up for a vote. McCann says he wants to see his small town diversify its economy, not invest in the landfill.
“I kind of hope it sends a message that it’s open for people to come that like the outdoors, that want to have the opportunity to start a business and that kind of thing, that we’re welcome to that idea.”
McCann is also worried about alleged water pollution from the dump. Environmental groups announced days before town meeting that they planned to file a lawsuit based on those allegations.
Casella has disputed the environmental claims, and says the landfill plays an important economic role in the region.
Joseph Fusco, a vice president for Casella, tells NHPR they plan to continue to work with Bethlehem residents on the next steps for the landfill, including "alternative expansion strategies past the current permitted capacity." In an email, he says, "The landfill is an important environmental and economic contributor to the community and the state of New Hampshire."