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With Fort Fairfield approval, two County landfills to merge

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The Fort Fairfield Town Council sealed the deal Wednesday night in the effort to merge the Presque Isle and Tri-Community Landfills, with a 3-2 vote in favor of the agreement.  

Following a long public hearing and councilor deliberations last month, the Fort Fairfield Town Council reconvened for a special meeting Jan. 3 to vote on the agreement. Numerous Fort Fairfield residents expressed opposition to the merger at the Dec. 20 public hearing, while town councillors had sought more information on the details of the merger plan.

Before the meeting and vote Wednesday, the councilors held an executive session with Tri-Community Landfill director Mark Draper. The councilors later voted 3-2 in favor of the merger, with Melissa Libby and Scott Smith voting no.

The boards of the two landfill facilities have been working toward a merger agreement for more than a year, with the aim of having a more cost-efficient landfill serving Aroostook County’s small population.

A full merger plan has not been made public, but Draper said the deal would be fair for all of the communities involved and ultimately help contain landfill prices for residents.

Under the merger, Presque Isle would pay Caribou, Limestone and Fort Fairfield $2 million for associated landfill liability and closure costs of the Presque Isle Landfill.  The plan is for the Presque Isle Landfill to close — either at the end of its current seven year capacity, or sooner — while the Tri-Community Landfill would become the region’s main landfill facility, Draper said.

The agreement will create a board of directors where Caribou and Presque Isle each have two seats, and Fort Fairfield and Limestone each one seat.

Caribou city councilors approved the merger in late November and Limestone residents gave the OK in early December.

“This makes it official,” said Fort Fairfield town manager Jim Risner, adding that the merger is expected to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

“Now we can start doing the legal things that need to be done like notifying the state.”

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