B y Jaime Thomas
The town of Hartford and Washington County have finally come to an agreement regarding the Eldridge Lane landfill property.
The Washington County Board of Supervisors voted Friday to approve the settlement, in order to avoid a court hearing. After some counter proposing from both ends, Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff said the two parties have reached an agreement, with which he is “pleased enough.”
“It’s not everything we had asked for, but at some point you need to end litigation. We’re getting enough where I think it would be pragmatic for the town of Hartford to declare victory and move on,” Haff said.
During Friday’s meeting, Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell expressed disapproval of Haff’s actions.
“The part that really sticks in my craw is when this happened, it was written, in my belief, that if Hartford was ever host of a landfill they would get certain things, but a landfill was never built,” Campbell said. “They fought tooth and nail against a landfill and I have no problem with that, but to sue us for a host package when they were never a host is ludicrous.”
The $40,000 lump sum settlement to the town is on top of $126,340 the town and school have already received from the county since 2011.
The issue in question surrounds the 485-acre Eldridge Lane landfill property the county took ownership of and planned to build on in the early 90s. The landfill was never employed and the town of Hartford does not feel the county has paid the appropriate taxes on the property.
“In 2011 when I first looked into it, the county had mysteriously stopped making all payments to the town and school for the previous six years. Since I raised the issue, the county has paid $126,000 to the town and school in back payments for PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes,)”Haff said.
Additionally, the town will now take over the maintenance of the road, and the county will pay $4,000 annually for related expenses as long as it owns the land.
“If the county owned it, it would not be maintained and that’s not in the interest of our citizens who live there,” Haff said. He said Hartford did not want to be argumentative and obstinate for the sake of it; rather, the town felt it was wronged.
Despite Campbell’s comments, he voted for the settlement along with everyone else, except Jackson Supervisor Alan Brown, who voted against it.
“I don’t think this is what it should have come to; this is not what government should be doing,” Campbell said.
The next step in everyone’s mind is for Washington County to sell the property.
“We want to make sure the county sells the land so we can put it back on our tax roll,” Haff said. He also said the town will apply the $40,000 settlement amount toward next year’s levy in order to offset town property tax.