×

Neighbors demand Claremont board nix construction waste station; business gets extension for application



Valley News Correspondent
Monday, July 22, 2019

CLAREMONT — The Planning Board announced Monday it was granting more time for American Recycling for its site plan application for a construction waste transfer station on Industrial Boulevard.

The announcement came at the outset of a meeting where the board then allowed almost two hours of public comment, nearly all of which was strong opposition to American Recycling’s proposal. Concerns included noise, truck traffic, dust from potentially hazardous material, groundwater contamination, and the effect on property values and quality of life.

Several speakers wondered why the board was putting off a decision another month and instead urged members to vote no on the project immediately.

“Why are we still considering this?” asked Shawn Hickey, a resident of Westwood Village condominiums off Maple Avenue. “There is no debate. It is going to cause noise, pollution and stress on the infrastructure. Sounds like a ploy, asking to continue one more time. I don’t like it.”

Board member Dave Putnam said every applicant has the right to complete a site plan with all the necessary information so board members can make an informed decision on whether to approve or deny an application. The company has presented its proposal to the board at meetings going back to April but has never submitted a completed site plan for the board to review. Its request for conditional approval in June was not granted by the board.

American Recycling is proposing to demolish a steel building next to a rail siding and enlarge a concrete pad to accept about 500 tons per day of construction and demolition debris. After recyclable material, mostly metal, is removed, the rest would be loaded onto rail cars for shipment to Ohio.

Company officials met with Planning and Development office staff Tuesday to review the application. City Planner Scott Osgood said the city needs the applicant to address the environmental and traffic issues, noting that they have hired an environmental engineer and also plan to complete a traffic study.

“It is not only for the environment but also for the city,” Osgood said. “They need more time for professionals to put a package together.”

The company also would need a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment because a transfer station is not a permitted use in the industrial zone.

At the meeting, opponents of the proposal said city officials should not let a business make money on an operation they believe will jeopardize the health of residents living nearby and the children at nearby Maple Avenue School.

“We don’t have to give them the opportunity to make a profit off the backs of the health of the people of Claremont,” resident Jerry Cross said.

He questioned whether there is an economic benefit to Claremont to offset the cost of the wear and tear on roads caused by the estimated 30 to 50 trucks that would deliver to American Recycling every day.

The company has said it would not accept material from trucks that travel to the facility along Maple Avenue, but several people asked how such a policy would be enforced.

John Lambert, who with his wife, Jan, owns a car dealership and bicycle shop at the intersection of Plains Road and Industrial Boulevard, said the location simply is a bad fit for what American Recycling wants to do.

“The location is entirely inappropriate,” Lambert said, noting that the site would be open-air, is too small and within 50 feet of wetlands.

“You have to consider what was presented (by opponents) here and say no to this proposal.”

Jan Lambert said residents have started two petitions, one of which is online, and collected 175 signatures opposing the proposal.

Others on Monday noted the proposed operation is not allowed under the location’s existing zoning.

“The applicant must recognize they have come up with a proposal that is not a permitted use,” said John Tuthill, an Acworth resident.

Peter Cameron of Reading, Mass., who said he was one of the owners of the business, spoke to some of the issues raised by opponents. At one point, he said they were looking at possibly enclosing the operation but that has not been decided yet.

He called the operation “innovative” and an environmentally responsible way to dispose of construction and demolition debris.

“This not a dump,” Cameron said.

Opponents hope that growing opposition will lead officials to the reject the application.

“It boggles my mind the Planning Board is willing to even consider such a thing these men are proposing,” said resident Ernest Montenegro. “It will set Claremont back 10 years.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.