More than a dozen Tiverton residents sounded off against a proposed expansion to a waste management facility on Eagleville Road at Tuesday's Town Council meeting.
Although the Town Council does not have jurisdiction over the approval or denial of the Site-Ready Materials & Recycling Co.'s application for expansion, it dedicated about an hour of Tuesday's meeting to hearing from Tiverton residents, the majority of whom are against the proposal.
"As residents in the town of Tiverton and neighbors to the Site-Ready operation at Eagleville Road, please be advised that we oppose the application before the Planning Board and if approved, it will have a severely detrimental impact to neighbors and the town," said Donna Banville, reading from a letter submitted to the town on behalf of the Eagleville Road residents opposed to the project.
The proposed project calls for a two-phased expansion of the waste management facility. Phase 1 would be the construction of a 25,000-square-foot, 40-foot-tall prefabricated building. Phase 2 would call for an additional building of identical propportions adjacent to the Phase 1 building.
The new buildings would allow for expanded recycling capabilities, the operation of a transfer station and a single-stream materials recovery facility, according to the project summary. All materials would reportedly be processed indoors.
The expanded operation would allow for the processing of up to 1,500 tons of recyclable materials, construction and demolition debris and municipal solid waste daily. The company estimated an additional 740 trucks would travel to the Eagleville Road site via Fish and Stafford roads daily - 60 to 100 of those between 7 and 8 a.m.
Currently Site-Ready is a facility that serves the general public and wholesalers and provides not only gravel, stone, coarse and fine sand, but wall stone, rip rap, fill, loam, compost, granite curbing, and cobble stones. They are also a DEM compost facility and recycle any organic material such as stumps, brush, and grass clippings. In addition, they also accept concrete, brick, and asphalt and turn those into gravel, according to Tiverton-Little Compton Patch's directory listing.
According to Town Council member David Nelson, the proposed development of the property is expected to bring an additional $15,000 to the property tax rolls.
"Take into consideration our property value losses," said Patricia Pelletier, an Eagleville Road resident. "You estimate an additional $15,000 in tax revenue, but my property taxes will be cut in half."
The site exists within the Stafford Pond watershed overlay district. Earlier in the meeting the council voted unanimously to amend the density calculations for subdivisions within the watershed overlay district. The regulation called for no more than one unit per three acres of land. In the old ordinance developers could count wetlands and unbuildable steep slopes into the equation. The amended ordinance disallows adding this type of unbuildable land into the equation.
According to Planning Board Vice President Stuart Hardy, this amendment was necessary to help combat pollution within the Stafford Pond reservoir. Phosphorus and other rainwater pollutants washing into the pond have been an issue in the pond.
"As someone who helps with the water studies, [Stafford Pond] is at its cleanest now and i can't even tell you what all of the dust and contaminants will do
to the pond," said Brian O'Neill, a Stafford Road resident and representative of the Stafford Pond Improvement Association. "I don't think we can take it. If we do this I think we are taking a huge step back."
Another resident agreed.
"You talked about the watershed like it's the best thing since sliced bread and you're taking about this dump and putting it right on top of it," said Jack Hoover,who lives across the street from the site. "Your taking about people's homes, livelihoods and telling them they have leave three acres between developments. This is not a good thing to put in a watershed area and I imagine we're going to fight like hell against it."
Town Council members refrained from offering their opinions on whether they are for or against the project. They did however argue whether the council meeting was an appropriate forum for discourse since the matter is currently before the Planning Board.
"I have not expressed here at this table tonight any view for or against. This is meant for our public to come up and express their opinions on it," said David Nelson, councilman. "Those remarks would not get the same visibility at the Planning Board as it would here where is will be televised."
Councilman Robert D. Coulter was also in favor of allowing residents to voice their opinions while council members refrained from doing so.
"I disagree that it is an appropriate forum," said Brett N. Pelletier, councilman. "The language we've been batting around is whether we are for or against this, for informational purposes only it is because - at least to some people - an unfavorable proposal to the Planning Board and if we're going to do this as a manor of course, we should do this for every matter before planning board. We are
shedding light because there is controversy. As a Town Council member, I have no opinion of whether I am for or against, or the validity and the qualification of this applicant because I wasn't elected to do that and I think by talking about it one way or another as a Town Council, we have somehow interfered with the process. I'm not comfortable talking about this either way."
Council President Jay J. Lambert and Councilman Edward A. Roderick also expressed concerns with bypassing the Planning Board's jurisdiction.
One resident, Roger Bennis, accepted that it was not the council's duty to interfere in the Planning Board process, but did question how such an expansion could garner approval under the town code.
"If it is at all possible that this development with the number of trucks anticipated in a watershed area and its proximity to residential housing, if it is possible that they may get all the permits, my question to the Town Council is when are you going to change the zoning so that it isn't possible," said Bennis. "You don't do this in a watershed area. Zoning should restrict that. If the zoning is possible, then I think we would all expect the Town Council doing something to change the zoning so that this is not possible."
The Planning Board is scheduled to consider the matter at its Nov. 20 meeting.