The developers of a planned $2.5 million solid waste transfer station are now looking for alternative sites, both in Clark County and the surrounding area.
Clark County natives Mike Snoddy and Kevin Dewey said they’d like to keep the waste transfer station in the community, but they’ll “go where we’re supported,” Dewey said.
Their company, Recycle Clark County LLC, applied for a conditional use permit to locate on a 10.92-acre site near the United Parcel Service Building, 500 W. Leffel Lane. However, the permit was denied by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals at a three-hour meeting on Wednesday.
“We’re trying to do something socially responsible,” Dewey said. “Recycling doesn’t make millionaires out of anyone. It will pay the bills and do something positive for the community. At the end of the day, we don’t want feel like we’ve done something socially responsible and positive and have everyone upset with us. We’re going to try to find a happy medium.”
Clark County ranks last in the region in its residential recycling.
The transfer station would separate recyclable materials from trash and would replace a similar center in Vandalia that is closing. It would create 12 to 14 full-time jobs that pay between $10 and $20 per hour. The facility would see approximately 12 to 15 trucks per day at first, but as many as 50 in the future, according to developers.
County commissioners voted to support the project as part of the Clark County Solid Waste District’s waste management plan last December.
Snoddy and Dewey hoped to open the facility this winter before the holiday season. After the permit was denied last week, Dewey said they’d begin the process of finding a new location before attempting to receive permits and licenses from municipalities and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
“The city and the county want this,” Dewey said. “They both want it. Everybody wants to recycle. It’s about finding the right mix, the right place and the right time to do it. As we heard from the testimony (on Wednesday), it was pretty compelling. I felt for them. I would not want to be afraid of something that was coming that close to my home, either.”
Developers said they don’t plan to file an appeal.
“At the end of the day, we don’t want to force our way into a community,” Dewey said.
Possible future locations
Both city and county economic development officials have been in discussions with developers about finding alternative locations for the project.
Assistant City Manager and Director of Economic Development Tom Franzen said they’ll the review the concerns of the BZA members and speak with the developers about other available options.
“We’ll have to evaluate what the concerns from the BZA were and understand how that affects any decision or any potential location,” Franzen said.
Several alternatives mentioned include Champion City Business Park near the site of the old International Body Plant on Lagonda Ave., the Prime Ohio II industrial park near Interstate 70 and Ohio 41 and AirPark Ohio in Green Township.
The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce is also helping developers scout locations, according to Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Community Improvement Corporation of Springfield and Clark County.
The community has to weigh the positives and the negatives when selecting a location, which isn’t easy, Franzen said.
“There are other extenuating circumstances, real and perceived, related to this type of project,” Franzen said.
Dewey said the industrial parks aren’t viable options. Developers were told Champion City Business Park is targeting larger job creators, which Dewey said is “understandable.”
“That would be the objective as well if it was my land,” Dewey said. “We’re pretty limited as to where we can go. First, it has to be zoned (properly ) and as you’ve seen, we have to meet the conditional use criteria.
“I don’t believe you can change public perception that much,” Dewey said. “Ideally, we’d want to position this far enough away from residential neighborhood that it wouldn’t cause concern or fear.”
All five city commissioners agree a transfer station is needed in the community, but they opposed the planned location on Leffel Lane because of the proximity to the neighborhood.
“For the people of the Southgate community, I think this is a good decision,” Mayor Warren Copeland said.
Copeland hopes the city can work to help the developers find a new location, but ultimately, it’s their decision because they’re making the investment.
Effects on Moraine
Springfield officials toured the Montgomery County Solid Waste South Transfer Facility prior to the zoning board’s decision.
The Montgomery County waste transfer station and recycling center in Moraine is a 120,000 square foot enclosed facility that sits on 40 to 50 acres of land and is in a commercial, industrial area along railroad tracks.
It can handle 500,000 tons of trash per year and is used by hundreds of semi tractor-trailers daily.
“The one in Springfield would be one-tenth this size,” said Bob Downing, manager of the facility.
It’s operated by Montgomery County Solid Waste District, which is made up of 28 townships, cities and municipalities.
“We can push through here a couple thousand tons (of trash) per day or in truck traffic, probably a few hundred commercial and as many as 500 public on a busy day,” Downing said.
Downing said the facility is regularly inspected by the Environmental Protection Agency and is required to receive a license from the EPA annually.
He said EPA officials look for blowing litter, uncontained waste, odors, improper vehicles, vehicles without tarps and how the facility controls its leachate (moisture in the waste).
“When the (North Transfer Facility) closes we will be processing up to 3,000 tons per day and have over 100 tractor-trailers leave here a day,” Downing said.
James Profitt, assistant manager of operations, said the trash is loaded on to the trucks with a mechanical tarp over the top of it and hauled to two area landfills.
Officials say neighbors of a well-run waste transfer station would not have to worry about increased litter, but would need to be concerned about truck traffic.
“If you’re a well-run facility you shouldn’t see trash anywhere but inside of the building,” Profitt said.
“Truck traffic is really about the biggest concern I think a community ought to have regarding a facility like this today,” Downing said.
Profitt and Downing also said neighbors would not smell trash.
“As long as you keep moving it out as you’re get it in. The problem is when you store waste, and it has a chance to sit and decompose,” Downing said.
The Montgomery County facility has 80 employees and generates about $24 million in revenue.
Downing said waste transfer facilities are needed because every community generates trash.
He said the key to siting a waste transfer facility is educating the public.
“There’s a bad connotation from a perception point of view. That’s why we promote tours just so people understand the impact,” Downing said.
Is it needed?
Clark County Solid Waste District Director Alice Godsey said she’s disappointed there’s not a plan for the transfer station to move forward, but she was encouraged the developers were still looking at other locations within the community.
The Solid Waste District’s five-year plan calls for the district to look at options for a transfer station in the county.
“In light of that, if the private sector is able to build and operate a transfer station, it takes care of one of the obligations that’s spelled out in the plan,” she said.
The district’s next plan must be ready by late 2017, but Godsey does not believe the Ohio EPA would mandate a transfer station here at this point.
The Montgomery County North Transfer Facility in Dayton will close either this year or next year, Godsey said. Local haulers will have to travel farther to drop off trash to the South Transfer Facility in Moraine.
“It’s a cost and time issue for solid waste haulers,” Godsey said.
The residential recycling rate last year was approximately 33 percent in 2012, down from 34.4 percent in 2011 and 36.5 in 2010, according to numbers from the district. The industrial recycling rate was 95.8 percent in 2012, down from 97.1 in 2011 and 97.5 in 2010.
According to the district’s solid waste plan, it recycled approximately 11 pounds per person per year from its curbside program. The district ranked last in a group of 13 surrounding districts, including Montgomery County, which recycled approximately 140 pounds per person per year. The lack of non-subscription curbside programs is the reason for the low performance, according to the plan.
“Many of the residents of Clark County don’t have the convenience of curbside recycling,” Godsey said.
Sticking with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has provided in-depth coverage on the planned solid waste transfer station since the story first broke last fall, following the issue through county and city agencies.