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Claremont residents raise concerns over transfer station for construction debris



Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, June 11, 2019

CLAREMONT — Most of the roughly 50 people at a Planning Board meeting on Monday night voiced strong opposition to a proposed rail transfer station for construction and demolition material on Industrial Boulevard because of concerns about noise, air quality, groundwater contamination, quality of life and the potential effect on property values.

American Recycling is seeking conditional approval for the project and was asked to return with more details on how it would address issues raised during the public hearing Monday night. While several people praised owners Francesco Finocchiaro and Dave Schiebel for improving the recycling facility on Industrial Boulevard since buying it a few years ago, they also told the board that trucking in construction and demolition debris to the facility in close proximity to homes and a school is wrong.

“This is just a poor spot for it,” said Brian Rapp, a Claremont firefighter whose children attend Maple Avenue School. “They are not going to be able to keep the dust down.”

Resident Jerry Cross told the board the transfer station would adversely impact all those living near it.

“We really are talking about quality of life issues,” Cross said. “I am not anti-business. This is just a question of appropriateness.”

Cross said if allowed to go forward, the operation would further “decimate” property values, already hurt by one of the highest property tax rates in the state, with the potential for toxic dust and loud noise. “This is no benefit to us. It is right next to a long-established residential area and school.”

Company officials told the board all hazardous materials have to be removed from the debris prior to it being loaded on a truck for transport to Claremont.

Alyssa and Tom Anderson, also Maple Avenue residents, who said they love living in Claremont, worried about the impact on their family’s outdoor lifestyle.

“I feel the value of life will be greatly diminished if I can’t run and the kids can’t play outside,” said Alyssa Anderson.

There were also concerns about damage to roads and the impact on the city’s  efforts to increase ridership at the nearby Amtrak train station.

“We are putting in jeopardy efforts to bring in tourists via the railroad,” said Jan Lambert, who with her husband John, owns a bike shop in the former rail depot and a car dealership. “We don’t have to be a dumping ground for everybody’s waste.”

Added John Lambert, “American Recycling is doing a great job but this is not the right place for it (rail transfer station).”

Under the proposal, American Recycling would process 300 to 500 tons of material a day, delivered by 30 to 50 trucks of varying size. The trucks would be prohibited from traveling on Maple Avenue and if they do, haulers could be barred by American Recycling from using its facility. The enforceability of that prohibition was questioned.

The trucks would dump their loads on a large concrete pad next to the rail siding and after recyclable materials are removed, the remainder would be loaded onto rail cars for transport to Ohio. 

There were some, including American Recycling employees, who supported the plan.

Jeff Albright, who worked for the railroad, said the board should consider the jobs and taxes American Recycling provides and said denying the application would send “a message to business that Claremont is closed.” He also praised the company’s owners for cleaning up the recycling operation.

“These people have spent so much money, to slam the door in their face would be an insult,” Albright said.

American Recycling employee Sloane Bareclou said making sure there is no threat to public health is a major priority of the state Department of Environmental Services.

“Anything they approve, health is their number one concern,” he said. "If there are any questions, they won’t allow that facility to be there.”

Finocchiaro and  Schiebel responded to concerns about hazardous material and the size and location of the operation. Regarding the possibility of asbestos, lead or mercury in the debris, Schiebel said they have to be removed or abated prior to a structure being demolished.

“You can’t just rip down a building,” Schiebel said. “It is not open season and you do what you want.”

He explained a stringent state-regulated process in which a certified inspector has to review samples of material from the structure to ensure nothing is hazardous, and if lead or anything else is present, it must be abated and that abatement certified as well.

“That is how you stop it upstream from coming to our facility,” Schiebel said.

Schiebel also talked about two open-air facilities in the state that process C&D material in Salem and Epping, N.H.

In Salem, Schiebel said the facility receives 1,200 to 2,000 tons of material a day. He told the board there is a school less than 3 miles away and the facility is near a farmstand, a pond where people swim and hold fishing derbies, and is less than 2 miles from the town’s drinking water source, Canobie Lake. He said the Epping facility is near residential properties.

Finocchiaro and  Schiebel sought conditional approval to avoid spending as much as  $150,000 obtaining state and federal permits only to have the city deny the site plan. But Planning Board member Charlene Lovett said a conditional approval would back the board into a corner because if the company did receive state and federal permits, the expectation would be that the city would also approve the application.

“We have to do our due diligence and address the concerns voiced here,” Lovett, the city’s mayor said.

Board member Dave Putnam said the board needed more data and specifics on the site plan to address everything from groundwater to dust and noise before making a decision and his motion to continue the application review to July 22 passed unanimously.

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