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Pennsylvania Game Commission considers purchasing former landfill property

Pennsylvania Game Commission

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is considering the purchase of 660 acres in Cherry and Clay townships which once belonged to Northwest Sanitary Landfill, and are soon to be purchased by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

At a meeting to be held on Friday, July 12, the Game Commission will decide on a proposal to purchase the property for a lump sum of $1,165,344, according to the draft meeting agenda.

The commission’s action is contingent on the conservancy closing their purchase of the land from Northwest Sanitary Landfill, a disposal facility operated by Waste Management. However, a spokesperson from the company confirmed that the company was in talks to sell the property to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and that the landfill is expected to close soon.

“WM’s Northwest Sanitary Landfill will be reaching capacity and closing later this year,” wrote Erika Young, public relations manager for Waste Management. “After closure, WM is required to monitor the landfill for a minimum of 30 years. We are currently in negotiations to sell a portion of the site’s buffer area to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.”

“I understand, from what Waste Management have told Clay Township administration, that they would be closing (the landfill) by the end of the year,” said Jeff Scott, Clay Township supervisors chairman.

The purchase is one of several items which will be discussed during the Game Commission’s Friday meeting, which will be held in-person in Harrisburg but can be streamed live on YouTube.

According to a satellite shot used for the agenda, none of the land up for sale by Waste Management seems to have been used for landfill purposes. The 660 acres are being targeted for conservation purposes due to their abundance of natural diversity.

“A Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory review indicates the presence of a federally endangered species in the vicinity of this property,” reads the agenda item for Friday’s Game Commission meeting. “A heron rookery located on a freshwater pond on the property provides a unique wildlife habitat feature.”

William Smith, Cherry Township supervisors chairman, said he and his constituents have reservations about the transaction, as it could result in a decrease in tax revenue from the departure of Waste Management.

“Our main concern … is that there will be no more property tax on it and it will tie up the property forever,” Smith said. “Basically, nobody can buy or sell or develop any of the property. Once the Game Commission gets it, the township’s going to lose out on tax dollars.”

Smith also questioned whether Cherry Township needs more public land. The township already is home to the sprawling State Game Lands No. 95, which is adjacent to the landfill property.

“We already have a huge game land in the township,” Smith said. “It’s huge and there’s plenty of public access over there. Why do we need more public land? And like I said, it's going to tie up tax revenue.”

Neither Western Pennsylvania Conservancy nor Waste Management responded to a request for comment.

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