The cities of Gering and Scottsbluff have agreed to a contract that could lay the groundwork for the development of a new disposal facility in Sioux County that would replace the Gering landfill that’s nearing full capacity.
Under the terms of the site exploration and purchase option agreement with F-X Land Company, the cities would pay a $25,000 non-refundable fee for the right to conduct in-depth on-site studies on up to 300 acres of land adjacent to Highway 71 about 16 miles north of Scottsbluff.
After the Gering Council gave unanimous approval to the document during a special meeting Monday afternoon, Gering City Engineer Annie Folck explained that several different sites were considered in Scotts Bluff, Sioux and Banner Counties, and found unsuitable for a variety of reasons, but preliminary studies of the site in question using existing resources indicated it was an excellent candidate.
“The issue now is that in order to do the rest of the due diligence we need to, we need to start drilling groundwater monitoring wells, we need to do soil borings and cultural resources surveys and things like that which gets extremely expensive,” said Folck. “All together, it’s going to be $150,000 to do all those investigations. As staff, I’m not comfortable recommending moving forward with that on site until we have an option to purchase in place. Obviously you don’t want to invest that kind of money just to have the property owner change their mind.”
If the site passes the more in-depth technical and other assessments, the cities would have up to five years from the start of the agreement to exercise an exclusive option to purchase up to 300 contiguous acres for $2,355 an acre.
Following the presentation, the Scottsbluff Council approved the agreement on a 3 to 2 vote, with Terry Schaub and Jordan Colwell voting against.
The cost of purchasing the Sioux County land would come from a reserve account fund created with a goal of developing a new regional landfill and funded through per-ton disposal fees paid by both cities at the Gering facility. The fund currently contains $1.8 million, and under an agreement also approved by both councils Monday, the top administrator for each city would have to approve expenditures aimed at completion of a new landfill.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In a Dec. 21 story originally published at 8:33 a.m. previewing this subject, KNEB News reported the potential landfill site was located approximately 10 miles north of Morrill, based on the initial document included in agenda packets as originally distributed to news media. Gering City Engineer Annie Folck told KNEB News following the Scottsbluff council meeting the original document contained an error in the range and township description of the land in question, and was corrected later in the day Monday prior to consideration by both city councils.