By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
After a year of negotiations, Best Way Disposal on Monday purchased the embattled 254-acre Mallard Lake Landfill property from JM Corp. The purchase was made by Bex Farms, an affiliate of Best Way.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed. It does, however, include a valid permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, good until early 2015, to build a landfill on 13 acres of the property.
In a news release, however, the company said it has no plans to build the landfill at 3283 E. 300N, which was long a dream of the late Ralph Reed, who died in 2012 at age 84.
"Best Way has no plans or need at this time to develop the property as a landfill," the company said in a statement. Best Way is a family-owned company based at the Madison Avenue Transfer Station on Anderson's south side. Trash the company collects is transferred to landfills in Indianapolis and Randolph County.
The company said it plans to rent tillable land to local farmers, and also "explore opportunities with local governments and other interested parties for other uses for the property, including sale, lease or development."
"The sale was closed today," confirmed Anderson attorney Ronald Fowler, who represented Reed through an environmental and legal saga that spanned 34 years. "It was just time for the Reeds to move on and sell."
Opponents argued through 15 long legal challenges that building a landfill on the property posed a risk of contaminating Killbuck Creek and nearby Ranney and Elder Street wells, two of Anderson's primary water supplies.
But Fowler said numerous studies conducted over the years showed that the proposed landfill would have met or exceeded current environmental requirements and could have significantly lowered Anderson's trash hauling costs.
Local businessman Ward Stilson sold the Mallard Lake farm to Reed in 1979 as an investment for the Stilson family trust.
In an interview earlier this year, Thomas Gunn, trustee for the Stilson trust, said it was owed several million dollars by the Reed family.
Like others involved in Monday's sale, Gunn declined to disclose terms. He followed the proceedings via email from his home in Michigan.
"Ultimately, we're pleased that circumstances came together and that we were able to do the transaction," Gunn said. "Everybody is happy to see this concluded."
Bill Kutschera, president of the Killbuck Concerned Citizens, which long challenged construction of the landfill, said Best Way executives issued an invitation on Sunday to meet with them on Monday.
That meeting lasted about an hour, and Kutschera said he came away from it encouraged that the KCCA's long battle might be reaching an end.
One reason is simple economics, he said. Although Reed always intended to start small and expand, Kutschera said, the existing permit is only approved for 13 acres.
Because of the costs involved with building a modern landfill, it would simply be prohibitively costly to build one so small and make money, he said.
Another important factor entered the equation as well, Kutschera added. The fact that Best Way is an important part of Anderson.
"Best Way is not in the business of alienating its customers. They're a very important part of this community and we applaud them," he said. Inviting members of KCCA to meet with the company before the official sale announcement "is the exact opposite of what we've dealt with over the past 34 years."
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