GORHAM – A 5,000-ton pile of trash at the closed Plan-It Recycling & Transfer facility in Gorham is now likely headed to a landfill in Old Town.

It was going to be moved and buried at a closed landfill on Huston Road in Gorham, under a proposal by a local construction company that plans to buy the Plan-It property.

But liability issues and complaints from residents who live near the landfill prompted the company, R.J. Grondin & Sons, to change its plan, even though it will be slightly more expensive.

It now plans to have Pine Tree Waste haul the trash to the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town, appeasing Gorham residents and eliminating the risk of liability for contaminating their wells.

“It seems like a happy ending for everybody,” said Phil Grondin Jr., an owner of the construction company.

The Plan-It facility was shut down in January by a Cumberland County Superior Court judge because piles of trash had accumulated beyond amounts permitted by the town and the state.

The state Department of Environmental Protection considers the trash a fire hazard and has concerns about odors and liquid run-off from the decomposing piles of construction and demolition debris.

Plan-It, which was sued by the town of Gorham and the DEP, does not have money to clean up the site. A solution negotiated in court is for Grondin & Sons, one of its mortgage holders, to remove the trash and buy out the $1 million mortgage on the property for $175,000 from the other mortgage holders, Bank of America and the Small Business Administration. That plan is close to being finalized.

Grondin considered hauling the trash to commercial landfills in Norridgewock or Rochester, N.H., but it would have been too expensive. The town proposed using the Huston Road landfill to eliminate disposal fees and reduce transportation costs.

Under that plan, which was approved by the Town Council in October, Grondin would have had to monitor wells in the area and pay to hook up residents to public water if there was any contamination.

After the council vote, Pine Tree Waste lured Grondin with an offer that was “competitive enough,” said Grondin, who wouldn’t disclose the price.

“We didn’t have to upset the neighbors. We didn’t have to worry about any long-term liabilities,” he said.

For Huston Road residents like Brenda Stoudt, the recent change in plans came as a welcome surprise. “It’s huge,” she said.

Stoudt said a group of neighbors planned to fight against the Huston Road landfill plan in front of the Gorham Planning Board, which would have been asked to approve the new use of the landfill site — another procedural step that Grondin avoids by taking the trash to Old Town.

Grondin is still awaiting approval of its plan from the DEP before starting to remove the trash. That approval, though not required, would protect the company from being sued by the state for any future environmental problems at the Plan-It site.

Grondin said he expects the trash removal to begin next month and take about two months to complete.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]