DaPonte bill could ease controversy over East Providence solid waste facility on Dexter Road

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PROVIDENCE — The State Senate passed legislation Wednesday, May 22, authored by East Providence’s Daniel DaPonte (D-Dist. 14) that would modify the definition of a construction and demolition (C&D) debris processing facility in order to protect the quality of life in residential areas and bring facilities treating less than 150 tons of debris into line with other plants.

The chamber approved the measure in a 37-0 vote.

The existing statute defines a C&D debris processing facility as “a solid waste management facility that receives and processes construction and demolition debris of more than 50 tons per day.” The bill (2014-S 2441A), sponsored by Sen. DaPonte ensures that every facility must obtain a license, regardless of the amount of debris it receives and processes.

Eliminating the 50-ton requirement aims to bring smaller facilities in line with the same zoning and Department of Environmental Management (DEM) guidelines that larger facilities must follow. If enacted, the legislation also states that all facilities must conduct all processing operations indoors if they are located within a 1,000-foot radius of a residential zone district.

In Sen. DaPonte’s district, the Pond View solid waste management facility has long been the subject of controversy among Rumford area residents. After years of enduring traffic, noise and dust from the plant, neighbors of the Dexter Street facility said DEM’s decision to increase the amount of material Pond View could process to 1,500 tons per day largely exacerbated issues stemming from its operation.

Although the facility shut down completely in 2013, the landlord of the property re-opened it with a 50-ton-per-day limit. Worried that the new facility could obtain a license allowing it to process 1,500 tons per day once again, residents have turned to the courts to seek protection for their neighborhood.

Whether the former facility’s license is transferable to the new facility is still the subject of litigation and will come before the state Supreme Court. But Sen. DaPonte said strongly believes his legislation could, in part, play a key role in dousing tensions between residential neighborhoods and facilities like the one in Rumford.

“I think this legislation represents a thoughtful compromise,” Sen. DaPonte said. “What it does is put reasonable limits on these facilities so that they can continue to be profitable while ensuring that a lot of the noise and dust cropping up in a lot of these complaints are contained indoors. We certainly don’t want to discourage business in Rumford, but we simply must protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Essentially, this bill is asking these businesses to be good neighbors. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request.”

Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) sponsors the House companion bill (2014-H 8117), which is scheduled for a hearing and possible consideration before the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee Thursday, May 22.

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