So, you’ve found your dream home – perfect schools, great community, low taxes. When the disclosure comes back, you find out that 3.5 miles away is the local landfill. How do you move forward now that you have this information?
Years ago, people tended to ditch the deal when this kind of information came to light. Who wants a landfill in their backyard? And, to be honest, older landfills were a real problem for their neighbors. Before 1970, few states had regulations on waste disposal and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was a fledgling agency. The old-fashioned style, unregulated landfills had no barriers to toxins leaking into ground water, had no requirements for odor control and were general nuisances to the hosting community surrounding them.
These changes and the environmental movement of the 1960s led to the creation of the regulations that federal, state and even local governments have in place to prevent landfills from creating environmental and health crises for their hosting community.
You might say that information is all well and good, but what would make me want to buy a home near a landfill? We’re glad you asked.
Here are some facts:
- Modern landfills, like Riverview Land Preserve, continually monitor for groundwater contamination. This is generally done by testing the water in specifically drilled monitoring wells that are spaced between the landfill’s borders and any potential community water sources. “These monitoring wells are used for periodic sampling and analysis of water samples. The resulting data are analyzed to determine if the landfill is impacting the environment,” said James Lawrence, Senior Hydrogeologist with SCS Engineers. This type of monitoring has worked to prevent groundwater contamination.
- Odors from landfill gas are greatly diminished when the gas is captured and turned into biomethane – a renewable substitute for natural gas – and can have an additional benefit of providing energy to local homes and businesses in an eco-friendly and renewable manner. Riverview Land Preserve and its partners have been turning biomethane into renewable energy since 1986.
- Size matters. Local landfills like Riverview Land Preserve are often owned and managed by local municipalities, and hence they have little to no negative impact on housing values. These landfills also tend to give back to the community that hosts them in the form of tax revenue, community service, and cost savings.
- Dropping home values are often a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a few residents begin to get upset about misconceptions regarding their neighbor, they tend to practice something called “homeowner flight,” which floods the housing market with inventory at bargain basement prices so the panicked homeowner can “escape” from their misunderstood neighbor. Studies in the Journal of Real Estate Research show that this type of panic selling – often brought on by mass hysteria unrelated to the reality of the landfill’s impact – can be one of the biggest factors in driving real estate prices near landfills.
So, don’t let that ecologically responsible, vital piece of community infrastructure scare you away from your dream home. Armed with this newfound information, you can buy with confidence, knowing that modern landfills work to be good neighbors to the communities around them and provide revenue, services, and protections for the host community that hosts them. Happy house hunting!