TIVERTON — A few minutes into last Tuesday’s Town council meeting, a woman called out a question from a crowd swelling near the rear of council chambers. Were people going to get a chance to talk about “Site Ready,” she asked.
“Site Ready” is the shorthand reference to a proposal under review by the planning board for the construction of a large recycling center on an 18-acre site on Eagleville Road.
Council President Jay Lambert told the woman that the “Site Ready” matter was on the agenda later in the meeting, placed there by Councilor David Nelson. Mr. Lambert indicated that then would be the time for comment.
So the group waited. After an hour or so, however, when Mr. Nelson’s item was called up, it wasn’t clear at first that the residents would be allowed to speak after all.
“At this point, this Town Council has no jurisdiction over this issue,” said President Lambert (a caution he repeated several times in the discussion that followed).
Mr. Nelson countered, referring to the Site Ready proposal pending before the town planning board as a “comprehensive and significant proposal.” Citizen comments would not get the same attention, he said, before the planning board as they would before the council, with television present.
Town Solicitor Andrew Teitz said there was “no harm in the town council discussing the matter,” but that “planning board members have been advised not to speak.”
Mr. Lambert said, “I’m not so sure we could shine a light fairly on the issue,” since “the applicant isn’t here.. In the end, however, Mr. Lambert relented, allowing residents to speak “for informational purposes only.”
But Councilor Brett Pelletier wasn’t so sure. “Even by talking about it at the town council level we can be interfering, and I’m not comfortable,” he said. “I don’t believe it’s an appropriate use of council time.”
A show of hands of citizens in the chambers was called for: All hands up were opposed; it did not appear any supported the proposal.
The verbal fusillade that followed seemed to catch some councilors by surprise. (Councilor Cecil Leonard was the only member absent.)
“This is in a watershed overlay district,” said Patricia Pelletier. “If Site Ready dissolves, who’s going to clean up the mess. It’s like Bay Street all over again.”
Her comments were echoed by “Jack,” who said, “this is not a good thing to put in a watershed.
Donna Banville said, “It will have an extremely detrimental impact on the town.”
“Mike,” a nearby resident, said it would result in “contamination of well water,” and that “no one’s going to buy your home.”
Another man said he’d been living in the area for 50 years, “and these trucks go flying by. Eagleville Road is not wide enough.”
To applause, another speaker said, “in my mind, the huge issue is the increase in truck traffic.”
A man who said he’s lived since 1970 across Eagleville Road from the facility, complained about “the smell, the dust, the noise,” and said “you’re putting a dump right in the watershed.”
Gary Pelletier spoke about the “50 to 100” trucks that would go along the roads during “bus time for schools” in the morning.
Patricia Hilton said, “there’s a question about whether everything that’s going on on that property is completely legal.”
In this connection, Town Building and Zoning Official Gareth Eames said in an interview Wednesday that at the end of September he’d asked for an official “walk through” of the property and been denied by a lawyer for Site Ready. At the council meeting, Mr. Teitz said “we’re looking into it,” and Town Administrator James Goncalo said “we’re trying to gain access to the property by legal means.’
The “Site Ready” proposal
The Site Ready recycling proposal calls for construction of two 25,000 square foot buildings at 322 Eagleville Road, to create “an indoor materials recycling and transfer facility,” said applicant and owner Marcello Louro, that could generate as many as 280 trucks on Eagleville Road per day.
The proposal had been on the planning board agenda as part of a Master Plan review on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, and been continued until the board’s Nov. 20 meeting, to allow time for a traffic study to be completed.
The recycling proposal, Mr. Louro said, involves two new facilities ‘to process single stream recyclables, and municipal solid waste.” He said 1,500 tons daily of recyclables would be transported in and out of the site daily. He calls his business “Site-Ready Materials & Recycling.”
In his Master Plan application, Mr. Louro says materials to be processed or recycled there include “reclaimed materials such as soil, asphalt, brick, concrete, and aggregate,” “leaf and yard waste,” and “recyclable materials, construction and demolition debris, and municipal solid waste.”
Trucks will vary in number, type and size. They would include, says Mr. Louro, 200 five-ton “municipal packer” trucks, 50 ten-ton roll off containers, 25-ton transfer trailers, and trucks carrying yard waste and aggregate.
In his proposal, Mr. Louro estimated peak arrivals will number 103 per hour. He said trucks will wait at the gait in varying numbers, with an estimated ten vehicles able to queue inside at any one time.