City staff recommended approval of a $2.5 million solid waste transfer station on West Leffel Lane with specific provisions, despite objections from city commissioners and some nearby Southgate neighbors.
The Board of Zoning Appeals will hear Recycle Clark County LLC’s application for a conditional use permit for the planned solid waste transfer station at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the City Hall forum, 76 E. High St. The permit does not have to be approved by the city commission.
The facility would separate recyclable materials from trash and would replace a similar transfer station in Vandalia that is closing. It would create 12 to 14 full-time jobs that pay between $10 and $20 per hour.
Developers told the Springfield News-Sun on Tuesday if the application is denied, they will seek an alternative site. They have been in discussions with another county, Mike Snoddy, co-owner, said.
“Springfield is our No. 1 priority, but we have spoken to another county,” Snoddy said.
The 10.92-acre site is located near the United Parcel Service building, 500 W. Leffel Lane.
The location is already zoned for general manufacturing, according to Bryan Heck, the city’s planning and zoning administrator. A completely enclosed solid waste transfer station is also a permitted conditional use for general manufacturing.
The BZA, a quasi-judicial board, will consider seven criteria when considering a permit, and staff felt the property “met the conditions and requirements of those criteria,” Heck said. The detailed criteria includes environmental, noise, traffic and zoning concerns, as well as how it will affect the neighborhood, among others.
However, staff recommended all waste handling activity be limited to the area 200 feet south of the creek that runs through the property and that the wooded area remain as a buffer between the residential area to the north.
Property owners in the Southgate neighborhood plan to attend to Wednesday’s meeting, according to former city commissioner Dale Henry.
“We deserve a clean neighborhood,” Henry said. “We’re trying to be good stewards of our neighborhood environment.”
Henry said neighbors have serious concerns about the environment and increased truck traffic in the area along Interstate 70 at exit 54. The intersection at Limestone and Leffel Lane is already busy with traffic coming to places like Assurant Group and Clark State Community College.
Henry also believes it will hurt property values nearby.
“When you’ve got something like a trash transfer station in your neighborhood, it spoils your chances of getting a reasonable return on your investment,” Henry said. “It’s one of those things where we’re afraid if the permit is allowed, it’s going to be more difficult to expect any more economic development on South Limestone or Leffel Lane.”
The property sits 140 feet from the nearest residential property in the Southgate neighborhood. The facility is expected to be approximately 24,000 square feet. Snoddy said the enclosed facility is planning to keep three to four acres of woods behind the facility as a buffer zone.
“It acts as a natural buffer for us,” Snoddy said.
Developers also have been in contact with city officials about alternate locations but said the location is “all about zoning.” He said it would be cheaper to locate on farmland somewhere in the county, but it’s hard to find the proper zoning.
All five city commissioners are opposed to locating the transfer station near a neighborhood, according to recent meeting minutes.
County commissioners voted to support the project as part of the Clark County Solid Waste District’s waste management plan last December. After seeking city approval, developers must receive approval from both the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency — both of which will likely hold public meetings on the proposed facility. The city has also recommended allowing the BZA’s decision to stand until Aug. 15 of next year to allow more time for Recyle Clark County LLC to receive permits from other government agencies.
If the conditional use permit is approved, the fight will continue, Henry said.
“We’re not going to give up,” Henry said. “We’re still going to fight this thing.”