TIVERTON — Tiverton’s planning board has rejected a proposal by Site Ready Materials and Recycling Company to construct a large recycling facility and solid waste transfer station at 322 Eagleville Road.
The vote, which followed a hearing that lasted for over two hours last Tuesday night in Town Hall, was unanimous by the seven members attending. Planning board members David Saurette and Peter Corr were absent.
The board also unanimously refused to support any request by Site Ready to seek zoning relief from the town zoning board, in the event Site Ready should choose to pursue it after being turned down by the planning board.
As it is required to do under town land development ordinances, the board made findings — in this case negative — on three of five criteria by which proposals such as Site Ready’s are to be judged. Two other criteria were deemed not applicable.
The board’s negative findings were that Site Ready’s proposed development was not consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan, was not in compliance with zoning ordinances, and would significantly impact the environment.
Site Ready’s Master Plan application — to construct two 25,000 square foot buildings “to process single stream recyclables and to transfer construction and demolition debris, recyclables and municipal solid waste” — has been under consideration at five planning board hearings since last April.
Waste management irrelevant
Tuesday’s hearing was intended as a continuation of the planning board’s January meeting, to give Site Ready a chance to respond to traffic concerns aired then.
Instead, Eric Brainsky, Site Ready’s lawyer, and the company’s environmental consultant Jason Gold, began the company’s presentation by taking a different tack. They proposed that Site Ready — operating the privately owned transfer station on Eagleville Road they were asking the board to approve — could handle all the town’s solid waste management, at such time as the town closed its municipal landfill a few years from now.
But Mr. Brainsky was interrupted by Planning Board Chairman Stephen Hughes, who said waste management options for the town were of “no relevance” to Site Ready’s Master Plan application. Another board member said, “we’re not here to negotiate with your group,” and that such options would be at some point be subjected to an “RFP,” and presumably a bidding process.
Traffic becomes the focus
Mr. Brainsky shifted gears, and turned the microphone over to Site Ready’s traffic engineer, Michael W. Desmond, who said Site Ready’s previous conclusions about traffic made last December “remain unchanged.”
“There are no unsafe conditions that would be worsened,” he said. “There will not be a significant disruption of traffic.”
Conceding that large trucks hauling trailers would have “multiple encroachments” at intersections, and would be in oncoming traffic lanes at times while turning, Mr. Desmond said he saw “no safety issues” with these encroachments.
With respect to the Eagleville/Stafford Road intersection, Mr. Desmond said, “I don’t anticipate it being a problem.”
On this point, the Town’s traffic consultants, Commonwealth Engineering, said turning trucks could be in the wrong lane of travel for up to 100 yards.
Whereupon board member Stuart Hardy asked Mr. Desmond, “you don’t see a safety issue” about this?” Mr. Desmond replied, “we do not.”
As Mr. Desmond continued, Director of Public Works Stephen Berlucchi, an engineer by training, said at one point to him, that “the numbers don’t add up,” and that “we are going to have stacking on Eagleville Road.” He said Mr. Desmond didn’t even address the problems presented when private vehicles on Eagleville Road have to navigate around Site Ready trucks stacked and waiting to get into Site Ready property and weigh scales.
When the public took its turn, Donna Banville, an Eagleville Road resident, said Saint Theresa’s Church (at the intersection of Eagleville and Stafford Roads) doesn’t just operate on Sundays, but conducts masses at different times during the week, and has weddings and funerals that truck traffic at the intersection could interfere with.
Kielty Pelletier, another resident, who has objected to current operations by Site Ready on the road, said, “I want to ask the planning board to respect the integrity of Tiverton and restore my property rights that are being violated…. You cannot put a price tag on the water or on the life of a child.”
Alluding to seaplanes that can land on Stafford Pond, and powerboats that use it, Mr. Brainsky then interjected a comment of his own. “The Town of Tiverton has airplanes landing on the pond, and powerboats.” A member of the audience then shouted out, “and the last thing we need is a dump.”
Roanne LePage stood to say “security issues and safety” hadn’t been addressed by Site Ready’s offer to reduce the size and scale of its operation. Terry Cote said she was concerned about the decline in property values and decline in tax revenues.
Allowed a closing comment by the chairman, Mr. Brainsky said the project will bring the town “millions of dollars” in taxes and tax savings.
Board member comments
Just prior to voting, planning board members, who for months had refrained from expressing their opinions, took their turns. Member David Holmes was concerned about groundwater, and said, “no one has any idea where the groundwater goes,” that “the risk for a spill is high,” and that the “risk a spill will harm the pond is just too great.”
Carol Guimond agreed with Mr. Holmes, and said she traveled the road frequently, and that “you have to be concerned about school buses.”
Others expressed concerns about the watershed, road safety, and the character of the neighborhood.
Final formal action on Site Ready’s application will take place on April 2, when the planning board will be presented with written findings and conclusions, that it will vote on at that time. Last Tuesday night’s action was to request the town solicitor Peter Ruggiero to prepare such a document.
The vote was the second setback Site Ready has experienced in the last two weeks. On Friday, March 1, the Town of Tiverton and Site Ready agreed that Site Ready would move its recycling operations out of town within 45 days.