DUNMORE -- The Keystone Sanitary Landfill in Lackawanna County no longer wants to expand vertically. The state's third largest dump wants to spread about 40 more years' worth of garbage throughout the existing landfill.
The proposal to keep the landfill open for decades still needs state approval.
More than a year ago, Keystone Sanitary Landfill asked the state for permission to add garbage 165 feet higher than its already highest peak.
Now, the landfill is voluntarily backing down from that proposal, officials admit, because of concerns from the public.
The landfill also has a plan in hopes of appeasing people who live around the landfill.
Keystone Sanitary Landfill in Lackawanna County has three so-called "trash sites," effectively mountains of garbage on the property that's in both Throop and Dunmore.
Keystone Landfill officials say it will now just fill in the valleys between those three sites, instead of asking the state to increase the landfill's height.
"We have a lot of respect for the public so we have reconfigured the landfill so the ultimate height of the Phase 3, that we're submitting for, will be no higher than the height that was approved in 1997," explained Al Magnotta, Keystone Sanitary Landfill.
Magnotta says the landfill made this change voluntarily and if allowed to expand, the landfill will also offer to help those who no longer want to live in its shadow.
"We have proposed and we will do what we call a property protection value plan," Magnotta said.
Under the plan, homeowners who live within a half-mile radius of the landfill, and have trouble selling, could be bought out.
Keystone Sanitary Landfill says it hasn't figured out quite home many homes fall within that half-mile radius but one of those most densely populated parts of that radius would be the Swinick development in Dunmore.
Josie Roman lives on nearby Throop Street and though she lives close, hasn't been following the landfill controversy too closely.
"Somewhat, somewhat, I can't say I know everything about it, but a little bit," said Roman. "I haven't thought about (how it affects property values) at all!"
Some of her neighbors have expressed concern about their property values. Three are included in a lawsuit against the landfill's proposed expansion.
But Roman says the newly proposed buyout program, for her, is less of a way out and more of an opportunity.
"At my age, I am a senior citizen, I think that would be an answer to my prayers as I get older, to sell my property, yes."
That buyout program is contingent on Keystone Sanitary Landfill getting permission to take all that additional garbage. That process could take months even a year more.