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BOULDER, Colo. — The project is meant to help Boulder County with its Zero Waste infrastructure goals, but neighbors say a proposed countywide composting facility is not as ‘green’ as it sounds, and the county has now put the project on hold.
“It’s like a covenant that Boulder County has with the taxpayers that open space is sacred,” said nearby homeowner Nancy Davis.
Boulder County wants to build the compost facility on open space land purchased by the county in 2018. The site is located on the east side of Highway 287 and just south of Highway 52 in Longmont and was the old Rainbow Nursery.
Davis’ family farm sits not far from the proposed location and would be visible from her land. She has concerns about how the county is using open space for this purpose and using taxpayer money to potentially build and maintain it.
“If they can do this to open space, if they can commercially develop open space, they can commercially develop open space anywhere,” she said.
Sketches of the proposed composting facility show what the site would look like. The facility would dispose of composting-class III waste, which means far more than food scrap waste would be brought in.
“Sounds nice, but this is massive. They’re trucking in animal manure, all the little green doggy bags from the doggy parks, potentially bio solids. So, the smell is going to be horrendous,” explained neighbor Brandon White.
White also has concerns about how the county notified homeowners—he said only 12 received a flyer in the mail. He also questioned why county commissioners appear to be pushing the project through in the middle of a pandemic.
“I would say the lack of transparency is very troubling and clearly, if this was a good project for us, for the residents, it would be talked about more openly,” he said.
Andrew Barth is the spokesman with the county overseeing the project. He said they county has since hit pause on the project after hearing negative feedback from neighbors and concerns from other businesses and towns.
“We’ve realized that there’s some information that we need to dig into,” Barth said.
Barth said while the county’s intentions are good, they need to reexamine the project and its location further before moving forward.
“Could really take a large chunk of waste of the stream to our area landfills, prevent it from going 50 miles down the road out of the county,” he said. “But everything is on hold, we’re going to reexamine and maybe bring it back.”
Barth said leaders on the project will review the concerns in January, and the backlash isn’t only coming from neighbors.
He said the company who owns the ditch behind the land has raised concerns about groundwater contamination, the Town of Erie’s concerned about smell and the state wants to ensure the facility doesn’t add more problems to already busy Highway 287.
“We want to make sure that we’re addressing all concerns and if we can’t, we may have to step back and look at another site,” Barth said.
For neighbors like Davis, they feel their livelihood is on the line and are having a hard time trusting anything Boulder County is saying.
“They want to say we brought composting to Boulder County. They want to say they did this. They don’t want to live near it,” Davis said.
“There is a significant double standard and hypocrisy, frankly, the way that this has been pushed through is very under the cloak of night,” White said.