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Use of Casella's name causes tension at hearing

August 01, 2019
DALTON — It was standing room only as Dalton voters and regional onlookers gathered at the Dalton Town Offices for nearly three hours on July 23. The purpose of the public discussion was to determine whether the town should adopt emergency zoning ordinances. Votes will be cast at a subsequent special town meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 30.

Moderator Christine Ordinetz told those in attendance that they could not use the name 'Casella,' but could use the term 'landfill.' Some argued that this was a clear and distinct violation of the First Amendment.

Dalton is one of only a handful of New Hampshire communities without zoning ordinances. Local opponents of a proposed landfill development near Forest Lake have brought this motion to the voters via petition and canvassing efforts over the last several months.

Casella, a Vermont based corporation, is seeking a new home for operations as their current waste facility in Bethlehem approaches capacity and will soon be capped. The company has been exploring a large parcel of private property off Route 116, owned by Douglas Ingerson.

Opinions in Dalton have become divisive in recent months and two organizations, Save Forest Lake and Save Dalton, are firmly planted on opposing sides of the argument. The first aims to prevent landfill development entirely and the latter is vocally opposed to the introduction of zoning regulations in the tiny "live free or die" community.

Ed Craxton, a former member of the Dalton Conservation Commission said, "This is where we live and we should make decisions about Dalton, not some out of town, out of state corporation that doesn't live here." Jon Swan, the man leading the charge to 'Save Forest Lake' and prevent the landfill, said, "Emergency temporary zoning is a tool that would give Dalton an opportunity to stop the landfill when no one wise has come forth with any other ideas."

Although the goal of the evening was to discuss zoning ordinances, a large number of the speakers chose instead to spend their allotted three minutes discussing the environmental impact of landfills. Representatives from the Toxics Action Center, an organization that has jointly filed a water contamination lawsuit against Casella, also spoke at the meeting.

Ingerson was one of the first people to speak, opening with "The reason why everyone is here is because of me."

He continued, "The zoning that we've had for many years works fine. I'm just trying to do something for the town that everyone would like. Hear the other side before you make any moves."

At this time, Casella has not filed any applications with the State for the proposed 180-acre landfill on Ingerson's property.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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