More time needed on Cold Canyon Landfill plan

After spending six hours Thursday poring over details of a proposal to expand Cold Canyon Landfill, the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission declined to act on the plan and scheduled two additional hearings, one in July and one in August.

Commissioners said they need more information before they can make a decision. They zeroed in on the hours the site would be open, possible safety problems with a proposed new entrance off Highway 227, and the time frame for phasing in changes, should the dump receive the go-ahead.

Owners of the landfill south of San Luis Obispo want to increase their “footprint” disposal area, currently 88 acres, by 46 acres and the tonnage allowed to 2,050 from 1,620 daily; put in a new entrance and scale house a quarter-mile south of the current entrance; expand hours; and increase staff from 75 to 114.

Landfill owners and county planners have spent at least six years working on the expansion while generating reams of paperwork to be vetted by dozens of agencies, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cold Canyon is the only landfill in San Luis Obispo County south of the Cuesta Grade. It provides a disposal site for trash created by residents from Ragged Point to Nipomo, including San Luis Obispo and other cities. There are two landfills in the North County.

Cold Canyon’s operators estimate that seven years’ worth of capacity remains, possibly less. Should they get their permit, the landfill could operate for an additional 25 years.

Neighbors have opposed the expansion, arguing that it causes noise, odor, traffic and other problems, as well as a decline in their property values. They made those arguments again Thursday, as they did at a hearing earlier in June.

On Thursday, commissioners explored such larger issues as traffic, noise, odor and code enforcement. But, led by Chairman Dan O’Grady, they also picked carefully over less noticeable parts of the proposal, including language and such questions as what kind of noise a dump truck would make while backing up.

Much, if not all, of this had been looked over by county planners and the landfill owner before the commission received the proposal. Planners have added 119 conditions the operator must meet if he expects the government to give his plan the go-ahead.

It is those 119 conditions that triggered the request for more time. The commission is expected to go over them one by one.