Fast-growing Carver County is looking for a new place to take its residents’ yard waste to ease a snarl of traffic at its Environmental Center in Chaska.
County staff say that the volume of yard waste arriving at the Environmental Center has doubled in just three years. The number of people using the facility, which also accepts hazardous materials, food waste, electronics and other items, has more than doubled since 2008. Staff said the traffic converging on the site, a former HVAC repair business, is extending onto nearby roads.
“It’s just very hectic in that small little area. We’ve had some accidents. We’ve had a lot of very close calls,” said Greg Boe, Carver County’s environmental services manager.
The proposed solution is to move the yard waste drop-off to a parcel of land owned by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on 82nd Street, just east of Bavaria Road. County commissioners are expected to vote on the plan in the coming weeks.
Boe said staff looked for a site that was already publicly owned, to avoid acquisition costs, and close to population centers. And it had to be about two acres in size.
“Some of the cities had a piece of property or two we could use, but they were too small,” Boe said. The proposal also provides a place for the Arboretum to bring its yard waste, rather than leaving brush in piles around the facility until there is enough of it to be chipped.
“It would be a much more efficient and better way for us to handle our woody plant debris,” said Arboretum Director Peter Moe.
Several neighbors are critical of the plan, however. Nancy Gay, who lives on a 20-acre farm nearby, said 82nd Street — now a gravel road — is not equipped to handle the added traffic.
“If they say that there’s already a backup of cars trying to get into the current Environmental Center, that same backup of cars is going to be right along on 82nd Street,” Gay said. “That road isn’t even wide enough for two cars to go side-by-side passing each other.”
Boe said he expects the site will add about 100 additional cars to the 200-500 per day that use 82nd Street today. The county plans to pave the road in the next five to 10 years, he added.
“It’s pretty much understood that these improvements will come to 82nd Street, whether this brush site is located there or not,” Boe said.
Gay does not believe the road will be paved, saying similar plans in the past have never materialized. But even with a paved road, she said, she would still object to the increased traffic.
“We don’t want to look at a waste site,” Gay said. “It’s not the reason we moved out there.”
The city of Chaska expressed similar concerns in a letter to the county in December.
“We get very concerned that this is too intense of a use given the fact that this road has not been improved, does not have designated turn and passing lanes, and is gravel, causing many dust issues for surrounding neighbors,” Mayor Mark Windschitl wrote.
Under the county’s plan, leaves and grass clippings would be hauled from the site each week to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Organics Recycling Facility in Shakopee. The brush and larger wood would be stockpiled and hauled away by SMSC once a year. The site would be open two to three days per week, and not perform any composting.