Proposed landfill divides Dalton, New Hampshire

DALTON, N.H. (WCAX) An upcoming vote in Dalton, New Hampshire, has divided the town. It's over zoning and it was sparked by a proposed landfill.

Signs dot the roadways all across Dalton. They encourage residents to vote yes, which would create a new temporary zoning ordinance in the town to block the landfill plan.

"We are country people. We are into the land, we are into our farms," Ronda Lee Read said.

Read is one resident who supports the new ordinance.

"It gives us a tool and it gives us an option," she said. "It's the difference between having an open door on your home or having a door that somebody needs to knock on."

"I don't really believe that ordinances should be set for certain purposes," Christian Correia said.

Correia has a different sign in his yard-- "no zoning." Dalton does not currently have a zoning ordinance and Correia thinks it should stay that way.

"For me to say that they can't build a shed on their property so they can store their lawnmower because they only have an acre of land because that is all they can afford-- it's just ridiculous to me," Correia said.

But zoning is only one part of the story. The yes or no votes comes after residents learned Casella Waste System was considering building a landfill in this valley.

Voters in nearby Bethlehem shot down a proposed expansion of their landfill last year. So, Casella started looking for other options, officials say, to meet the long-term needs of the region.

On-site testing has started but the proposal is still in the very early stages.

Doug Ingerson owns the land where the new landfill would be built.

"Any way they would like to vote that's theirs. Just think about it for a few minutes and see how it could help you in the long run for the town. Not just for today or tomorrow, five or 10 or 20 years down the road," Ingerson said.

Ingerson says the economic benefits could be in the community's best interests.

Opponents say environmental concerns should be the priority.

A New Hampshire State Park, adjacent to the proposed site, is adding to the tension between both sides. The new ordinance will give town officials more of a say in determining future land use issues.

The vote takes place July 30 at 7 p.m. at the municipal offices. If it passes, an emergency temporary ordinance goes into effect the next day.