Baldwin Park joined forces with El Monte last week, jumping into a controversy over a proposed Arcadia landfill that would border their two communities.
At a public hearing in Arcadia, residents and officials from Baldwin Park and El Monte criticized a draft environmental impact report on the landfill project and an adjoining light-industrial development.
Under the landfill proposal, a former 85-acre quarry owned by E. O. Rodeffer would be leased to BKK Corp., which plans to turn the site into a landfill for soil, rock and other inert materials.
El Monte residents whose homes face the landfill site, located on the western bank of the San Gabriel River just north of Lower Azusa Road, vehemently oppose the project.
According to the draft environmental report, BKK would operate the landfill six days a week to receive an estimated 150 to 200 truckloads of fill material each day. Lower Azusa Road, which turns into Los Angeles Street in Baldwin Park, would handle most of the truck traffic.
Baldwin Park Councilwoman Bette Lowes told Arcadia officials at last week's hearing that the resulting traffic impact on Baldwin Park, as well as possible ground water contamination, concern Baldwin Park residents.
"I'd like these hearings extended to give Baldwin Park adequate time to study these issues," said Lowes.
Certification of a final impact report by Arcadia is the first step toward approval of the landfill project.
El Monte officials also have taken an active role in the landfill controversy, hiring consultants and lawyers to represent the city and have considered annexing about 100 acres owned by Rodeffer.
At last week's hearing, comments from El Monte Mayor Don McMillen, residents and environmental activists touched on everything from noise pollution and traffic congestion to property devaluation. The most common fear, however, focused on the way fill material would be inspected before it is dumped.
"There's no way you can police this 24 hours a day," said El Monte resident Jerry Velasco.
The draft report indicated that before dumping, fill material would be visually inspected by certified BKK personnel at the landfill. But many residents voiced skepticism, noting that the report does not specify who would certify the inspectors. Others are worried because the inspectors would be employees of BKK.
Although the city of Irwindale has not taken a formal position in the controversy, Irwindale resident Richard Breceda, who lives 1 1/2 miles from the landfill site, said he is concerned about the amount of truck traffic the landfill would generate.
The public suggestions will be forwarded to consultants working on a final environmental report, said Arcadia Mayor Robert Harbicht.
No date has been set for completion of the final environmental impact report, Harbicht said.