LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- When you look, really look, at what's all around us here in northeastern Pennsylvania, what do you see?
From the city to the countryside there's a lot to take in. A lot of it is pleasant but some, not so much.
We didn't have to go far from the Newswatch 16 studios to find what many would call eyesores in plain sight off Interstate 81 in Lackawanna County.
A sprawling junkyard, massive power lines cutting through residential areas and previously untouched mountainsides, and towering over everything else -- a landfill.
"It's a walking contradiction," said Pat Clark. "We have a beautiful valley here with beautiful scenery and aesthetics except we do things like build landfills that will be the biggest structure in this area by a mile."
Pat Clark is with Friends of Lackawanna, a group trying to, among other things, stop a plan to expand the Keystone Sanitary Landfill.
We stood at the edge of a reservoir in Dunmore while the garbage trucks rolled by taking more and more garbage to the landfill with peaks that tower in the distance.
From where Clark and Friends of Lackawanna stand, it's worth the fight from an environmental standpoint, as well as property values and the region's overall self-image.
"We have to get out of the habit of shooting ourselves in the foot. We repeatedly do that because for too long we say that's the way it is. Let it go. It's time to start changing that."
The fight over the landfill centers partly on zoning. Most municipalities have the detailed rules on what's OK and what's not, all to "promote and protect public health, safety, as well as preserve natural, scenic and historic values."
That's right from Dunmore and Throop's zoning ordinances, which officials have started the process of updating after nearly two decades.
Right now, landfills and junkyards are permitted by zoning laws. The landfill and the junkyard, owned by Louis DeNaples, are in industrial or manufacturing zones and both predate the zoning on the books, meaning they're grandfathered in.
"They're here, not much we can do about it, whether you like it or not. They're legacy elements of life in northeastern Pennsylvania," Bob Durkin said.
Durkin heads up the economic development in the area as president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. He spoke with Newswatch 16 at the Jessup Small Business Park which is constantly adding new business and reclaiming scarred coal mining land.
"We're our own worst critics. Look around these hills. It's beautiful right now. It's a great valley. Aesthetically, it's as green as it's been in 100 years. Frankly, we intend to balance that with our economic development," said Durkin.
The Alliance Landfill in Taylor is owned by Waste Management, and to give you some perspective, more than 150 years ago, the company says this was the site of deep coal mining, meaning the area was scarred. By the 1930s, strip mining scarred it even more, resembling the surface of the moon. By the 1950s, this was an unregulated dump, meaning it contaminated the soil and water. But some 30 years ago, the Alliance Landfill as it is now began operating under strict environmental regulations.
Inside the Lackawanna County Historical Society, you get an idea of what the Scranton area looked like before industrialization. Then anthracite coal mining left this valley scarred for the better part of a century.
Today, neighborhoods and businesses have cropped up and for his part, Durkin isn't aware of developers who've shied away from northeastern Pennsylvania for any amount of negative image.
Still, the fight continues to contain, if not fix, the scars on the landscape that make some eyes sore.