To expand or not to expand is a question at the center of a heated debate in Northampton County.
The IESI landfill in Lower Saucon Township said it needs room to grow, but at least one township official has said not so fast.
The landfill buzzes daily with trash trucks and landfill workers, but landfill officials said the 224-acre site on Applebutter Road will soon be full.
IESI wants to get a zoning change so it can expand by 53 acres. The landfill has already bought many of the homes in the proposed area, said Sam Donato, the landfill's district manger.
Not everyone, however, is on board with the expansion.
"The major comments have been visual, noise, odors, impact on the neighborhood," said Donato.
The proposed expansion would add about 13 years to the life of the landfill, Donato said, but landfill officials would have to figure out before then what to do when that time expires.
And that's one of the reasons Lower Saucon Township Councilwoman Priscilla DeLeon said she is against the zoning change and the expansion.
"What are you going to fill the whole township up with things like that? You have to have limits. That's why you have zoning," said Donato.
DeLeon said the planning commission already decided not to issue a zoning change on the very same proposal last year, and the Lehigh Valley planning commission has also advised against it.
Even so, Donato said something has to be done to accommodate the landfill's needs.
Donato will be at Thursday's meeting of the township planning commission to talk about the concerns surrounding the expansion.
"I think it's probably a lack of knowledge on their part and the fear of landfills," said Donato.
DeLeon said for her, it's not an issue of fear but of preserving the natural beauty of the township.
The meeting is Thursday at 7 p.m.