Richfield, Scenic Pit in dispute over composting at site
Village claims pit owner filed false statement with DNR

By Joe VanDeLaarschot

May 17, 2019

Danah Zoulek looks over the edge of the pit on her property near a new pile of clean fill that was dropped off in October 2017 at the site along Scenic Drive in Richfield. Zoulek now wants to accept compost at the site.
File photo

RICHFIELD — Richfield officials and Danah Zoulek, owner of the Scenic Pit clean-fill landfill in the village, are involved in another disagreement over the facility’s operation.

This one is over whether she made a false statement to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources when she talked to officials there about the process of seeking to be able to accept compost at the landfill in addition to the clean fill that’s already being unloaded at the site.

Zoulek said in an email to village officials that she had applied for the compost permit with the DNR.

“The application for the permit asks if your local government has been notified that you intend to operate a solid waste facility. I answered yes as there can be no mistake that a solid waste facility already exists at 609 Scenic Road,” Zoulek said in an email to village officials.

Village Administrator Jim Healy said the village had not been notified of Zoulek’s intent to accept compost at the site and that her statement that they were aware of her plans was false.

“I called Administrator Jim Healy and asked what the process is for applying for a composting permit, to which he said he didn’t know,” Zoulek said. “I did look at the village ordinances and it says that haulers have to register with the administrator and report how much they haul annually. I’m not a hauler, and the ordinance is not very clear.”

Zoulek said the compost will be used on site only, as part of pit restoration.

“I was originally quoted $300,000 for top soil over the fill area. To reduce cost, generate revenue and restore the site it only makes sense to compost,” Zoulek said.

In her email to village officials, Zoulek said she did not find any type of village application to fill out to have a compost pile.

Healy said he contacted the DNR on May 7 and was told Scenic Pit LLC had taken steps to apply to compost materials at the landfill.

Healy said he was advised in writing by Melanie Burns of the DNR: “As far as your question on local approvals, approval or licensing by WDNR Waste & Materials Management Program would not relieve any facility of complying with all federal, state, and local permits, zoning and regulatory requirements.”

Healy then sent an email response to Zoulek.

“On your ISI application, when asked if the local government has been notified of your intent for development of this facility you indicated ‘yes.’ Contrary to your applicant certification you signed indicating that to the best of your knowledge the information you provided was accurate, your statement regarding notifying the village was false,” Healy said.

Village investigation

Healy said in an email response to Zoulek’s email that by law, “Scenic Pit LLC can have up to 50 cubic yards of compostable material on the property before a license is required. We have reason to believe that Scenic Pit LLC is illegally accepting composting material at a rate which exceeds the Administrative Law Code standard.

“We are investigating that alleged violation and the believed violation of Village Code 198-22, which relates to the burying of said solid waste. If such violations are proven to be true be advised that it will be recommended to the Village Board that you be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Healy said. “We agree, it is not disputed that you operate a solid waste facility for your clean fill landfill. However, you are requesting an Initial Site Inspection not for a clean fill landfill. You are seeking an ISI because you would like to expand the composting operations.”

Healy said when Zoulek called the village this week she asked what the process is for applying for a composting permit with the village. Richfield does not have a “composting permit.”

“However, we do have a process for reviewing commercial business operations. That process is governed under Section 70.133 of the Village’s Zoning Code,” Healy said. “The cost for the application is $800.”

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