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Ohio Supreme Court denies Rumpke expansion

For The Miami Student

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 00:09

Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, known more commonly as ‘Mount Rumpke’ or ‘Rumpke Mountain’ has been around since 1945. Now, the company is looking to expand the site located on 3800 Struble Rd. in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Rumpke expansion process started in 2006 according to Jeff Ritter, president of the Colerain Township Board of Trustees. Rumpke first submitted a request to double the size of Rumpke Sanitary Landfill Ritter said, and the township ultimately denied its request.

The expansion would have taken place on property that Rumpke either owns or on which Rumpke has the consent to develop, according to Amanda Pratt, director of corporate communications at Rumpke. The application process, which lasted until December, presented challenges for the company.

“We had to present our plan to the Hamilton County Regional Division,” Pratt said. “The next component was presenting it to Colerain Township for zoning. Throughout the entire process, we tried to reach an agreement but that was not successful so we started pursuing litigation.’

The Rumpke Board of Trustees could not pass its plan; it had to pursue a court case. Ritter said there are two parts to this case: the public utility side and the zoning side.

The public utility side involved Rumpke attempting to receive legal status as a public utility, meaning they could perform a public service. For the last six years, this case has been traveling through the court system until it finally reached the Ohio Supreme Court.

“[On September 5], the [Ohio] Supreme Court agreed with the township that Rumpke is not a public utility,” Ritter said. “Now the courts are going to look at the zoning point of view.”

The Colerain Township Board of Trustees does not want to see the expansion of the landfill for reasons related to the quality of life in the area, but for Rumpke, expanding would mean more service to the community.

Rumpke has been in service since 1945 according to Pratt, but the company initially started in 1932 as a hog farm during the Great Depression. The original owner, Bill Rumpke, collected trash from around the area to feed the pigs and, eventually, people relied on him to pick up their trash every week. In 1945, Bill Rumpke started charging a small amount of money to people for trash pick-up, Pratt said.

Since then, Pratt said Rumpke has expanded to all over Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and parts of West Virginia with eight other landfills. The Rumpke landfill in Cincinnati services a 60-mile radius.

Rumpke has over 2,300 employees, company wide and including its eleven recycling facilities. Rumpke is the tenth largest waste company in North America and has been rated Ohio’s largest residential recycle

Ritter, however, said Colerain Township does not want to see the expansion of Rumpke.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” Ritter said. “The odor is very invasive. It hurts property values.”

But according to Pratt, the company takes measures to be a positive aspect for the environment.

“We try to make the trash a resource,” Pratt said. “We want to reuse. We [also] take the gas that it produces [from trash] and turn it into natural gas and [people] in the Colerain Township use the gas to power their homes.”

Pratt said that right now, Rumpke has 15 years left for trash collection at this location, but this expansion would make it thirty years.

Senior Libby Macht said that Rumpke’s existence has both pros and cons.

“It’s a hard issue to handle because Colerain Township has the right to want to protect property values and the quality of the environment, but all our trash has to go somewhere,” Macht said.

Rumpke started the application process early because being granted the ability to expand is not easy, said Pratt. Rumpke will continue to pursue other opportunities for waste disposal, but this issue is far from over. Both Ritter and Pratt are assured in the cases they each have.

“I am confident of the township position,” Ritter said. “We are just going to try the case the best we can, and if we have to appeal to the Supreme Court again, we will.”

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