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Arcadia Council OKs Landfill : Environment: Panel approves proposal to fill in an old quarry. Residents of adjoining El Monte neighborhood object to the plan and vow to keep fighting it.

March 17, 1994|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Over the protests of neighboring El Monte's city leaders and residents, the Arcadia City Council voted early Wednesday to allow a landfill in an old quarry.

The two cities have struggled for 10 years over the landfill, which is barely connected to Arcadia but adjoins a residential neighborhood of El Monte that houses 5,000 people. The vote by Arcadia's council allows Rodeffer Investments Inc. to fill a tapped-out quarry, 85 acres by 165 feet deep, with 10 million cubic yards of dirt, gravel and concrete.

"All these rock quarries are eventually going to have to be filled," Arcadia's mayor pro tem, Dennis A. Lojeski, concluded after a public hearing that began Tuesday evening and ran into early Wednesday.

More than 200 people showed up at the council chambers to hear heated testimony from 40 people, mostly from El Monte, about the 60,000 truck trips that would be made during the landfill's 12-year lifetime. Speakers also voiced concerns about air pollution, noise and threats to ground water.

"Nowhere else in the San Gabriel Valley is a landfill operating so close to homes," El Monte Mayor Patricia A. Wallach said. After the Arcadia council vote, Wallach, citing fears over what could eventually get into the landfill, vowed her city would continue to fight it, but wouldn't say if that meant a lawsuit. The city wants the pit turned into a recreational lake.

Jeff Seymour, superintendent of El Monte City School District, said he feared for the health of students at four schools nearby because of possible air pollution.

"At a school nearby we have children so fragile . . . 26 children have severe breathing problems, 40 children are in wheelchairs, which causes problems with their lungs. . . . I surely wouldn't want to be responsible for hurting these children," he said.

El Monte resident Mike Lopez complained about the noise the landfill would bring. "At its peak it will be 15 trucks an hour, six days a week," he said.

Arcadia officials and Marlene A. Fox, attorney for Rodeffer, said the city and the firm had taken many steps to mitigate the effects. Fox pointed out that the pit cannot be left in its present state; its walls are unstable, and it must be made reusable to comply with state and local laws.

Rodeffer would contract with Roadway Construction to run the landfill. Roadway takes away soil from construction sites.

A hydrologist hired by Rodeffer, Dennis Williams, dismissed concerns over ground-water pollution. He said the landfill would not even need to be lined because there would be nothing liquid to leak. "It won't even take asphalt," he said.

El Monte residents will get many other chances to challenge the landfill, which must win the approval of the state and local water quality boards, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the California Integrated Waste Board and the county health department.

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