Hennepin County ends garbage fight with Minneapolis

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 12, 2014 - 9:50 AM

Minneapolis balked at request to burn more refuse at HERC, so city asked to come up with composting plan.

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A truck left the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center near Target Field along N. 7th Street near 5th Avenue.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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The city of Minneapolis has until the end of the year to deliver a composting plan for residents after a Hennepin County Board vote Tuesday.

The demand came in a board resolution that also dropped the county’s bid to burn more garbage at the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) just west of Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. For five years the county has sought city permission to increase burning by 11 percent, which would be the maximum the facility could handle.

But City Hall balked at giving the necessary go-ahead out of concerns for nearby residents. The city holds the use permit on the property for the HERC, so the county couldn’t increase the amount of burning without permission.

The county argued that burning garbage was preferable to hauling it out of the city to dump it into landfills.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was in the middle of a city-requested study on the environmental impact of burning. That will now stop.

The county’s new push for composting can be viewed as a frustrated scolding. “If you’re not succeeding at something, you have to move on,” Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said, adding that composting is an area with “great potential.”

The dual-purpose resolution passed on a 6-1 vote, with the commissioners expressing their disappointment over the city’s inaction on their request for the HERC.

“I do think not being able to use the HERC to capacity is a loss,” Commissioner Jan Callison said.

Board Chairman Mike Opat expressed a similar sentiment then said he hoped the county could now “move on to a more stable relationship” with the city of Minneapolis.

Only Board Member Jeff Johnson voted against the resolution, saying he didn’t know enough about the costs.

New Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges is a fan of composting, but she was not enthusiastic about more burning at the HERC.

Hennepin County produces 1.4 million tons of solid waste a year. Studies have shown that a third of the waste that goes into landfills is organic.

The city, however, will have to move quickly to meet the county’s time frame.

 

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 @rochelleolson

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