Dispute to keep city’s site closed for foreseeable future
Late April is typically the start of the yard-work season. Warming weather stirs the itch to be outside, Earth Day events promote green thumbs, and sites for compost and yard waste open.
The last of those may not be happening in Forest Lake this spring, though.
As part of a 10-year contract, the city provides Buberl Recycling and Compost a spot to operate on city land behind Forestland Nurseries. In exchange, Buberl provides service to Forest Lake residents free of charge. This year, however, a permitting dispute will prevent Buberl from being able to open anytime soon.
City and county officials say they are working to resolve the issue, but there is no timeline for the site to open.
The permitting concern involves the use of unprocessed materials in the concrete base on which compost is placed, said Lowell Johnson, director of the Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment. The material came from demolished homes and presents safety and environmental hazards, he said.
The county expressed concern about the material last year.
Both Johnson and City Administrator Aaron Parrish said discussions have recently progressed.
“We’re talking through issues,” Parrish said. “We have been unable to reconcile those, but I think we’re close to having a path set where we can have a permit issued.”
Concrete removal will need to happen before the facility can open.
“It might be more like months than weeks,” Parrish said.
In the meantime, residents are left without a convenient and free option. Wyoming-based SRC takes yard waste for a fee at its facility on East Viking Boulevard. The county’s nearest compost site open to all residents is in Bayport. Anoka County’s site in Lino Lakes is open only to residents of that county.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Susan Young called on the county to work toward a solution.
“I’m deeply disappointed with the intransigence of Washington County,” she said. “I think there’s not been a real cooperative spirit, especially with their interaction with the site operator.”
Johnson said the county is trying to be reasonable while making sure the law is upheld.