Porter County won’t pursue action against Duneland 28
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent August 7, 2012 4:18PM
Updated: September 9, 2012 6:18AM
VALPARAISO — The stench from the Duneland 28 composting facility in Union Township has diminished enough — along with the complaints about it from residents and officials from the nearby schools — that the Porter County Board of Commissioners will not be pursuing a public nuisance action against it.
Residents and school officials came out in force to a March meeting of the Porter County Board of Commissioners to express their displeasure with the facility, its smell, the constant truck traffic it brings, and the impact it might have on their property values.
While the county has tweaked its Unified Development Ordinance to better regulate future compost sites, those changes are not retroactive. Commissioners had said they would pursue a public nuisance action against Duneland 28, but county attorney Betty Knight said during Tuesday’s commissioners meeting that there is no longer a basis for the action.
The brunt of the complaints about odors from decomposing grass clippings came in the fall of last year, Knight said, adding none of the complaints is current, even with the recent heat wave.
She has visited the site, on County Road 300N, with county officials, as well as perused Indiana Department of Environmental Management documents and reviewed complaints about the facility.
The owner of Duneland 28, Bill Haak, also has been working to solve the problems and IDEM is satisfied that he is cooperating, Knight said.
The odor, she said, was from grass clippings not decomposing quickly enough, and was not the product of solid waste. Water tested near the composting and clean fill facility also met quality standards for consumption, she added.
“We are satisfied with (IDEM’s) conclusion at the time,” Knight said, adding emails sent to residents near the facility did not generate any new concerns.
Private citizens could still decide to file a public nuisance action against Duneland 28 and, depending on what the future brings, the county could change direction, she said.
“It’s not a matter we will be pursuing right now,” Knight said.
John Evans, R-North, president of the board of commissioners, thanked citizens for bringing forward their concerns, and said the facility offered commissioners a learning opportunity.
New standards for composting facilities include lower berms made from different materials.