TIVERTON — A proposal to convert 18 acres of land at 322 Eagleville Road into a regional “indoor materials recycling and transfer facility” drew sharp questioning from planning board members Tuesday night.
Later in the meeting, the attorney for the facility’s owner proposed cutting the tonnage by half — and with that the number of trucks if planners would grant their approval.
Numerous audience members, many living along Eagleville Road, at the Town Hall meeting went further with their criticism.
Patricia Pelletier, an Eagleville Road resident with children, contemplated what life would be like if Site Ready plans are approved.There willl be “rats and seagulls in the neighborhood,” she said, “no bike riding on the road” due to the many large trucks, and her family won’t be able to take their dog for a walk. “I’m afraid for my children’s rights,” she said. She also said elderly drivers and parishioners at the nearby Church of St. Theresa would be impacted by the truck traffic.
The only support for the proposed recycling operation came from Marcello Lauro, the owner of the business called Site-Ready Materials & Recycling, which is pushing for planning board approval, his lawyer Eric Brainsky, who did most of the talking, and a traffic engineer, Todd Brayton, P.E., who presented a traffic analysis for the business.
Mr. Brainsky said the proposal would bring “25-30 new jobs added to Tiverton,” and said, “We think it’s a good project for this town. It’s a good plan for the future.”
The traffic study was the main focus of the board’s consideration Tuesday night. The two-and-a-half hour discussion was nearly all about the many trucks that would travel on Eagleville Road daily, at peak hours in the morning and afternoon, and on weekends.
But speakers touched on other topics — air pollution, noise, safety, smell, and the impact on the Stafford Pond watershed.
Site Ready’s master plan application, submitted April 4, 2012, “proposes to construct two 25,000 square foot buildings to process single stream recyclables, and municipal solid waste.” The application says, “reclaimed materials such as soil, asphalt, brick, concrete, and aggregate are currently processed on site for recycling. Leaf and yard waste is also composted and used to amend loam.”
What would be new, says the application, is the addition of “recyclable materials, construction and demolition debris, and municipal solid waste” — around 1,500 tons trucked in and out daily.
That tonnage, Site Ready proponents say, would require 680 truck trips per day. Those trucks would include, they say, 200 five-ton municipal packer trucks, 50 ten-ton roll-off containers, 60 twenty-five-ton transfer trailers, and trucks carrying leaf and yard waste and aggregate.
The scope of the proposed operation has galvanized opposition.
Joe Sousa said that if Site Ready trucks backed up on Eagleville Road, “there’s no way cars could pass” around them safely. He then asked the traffic engineer if he’d ever given advice to a client that the client’s plan wouldn’t work. Mr. Brayton declined to answer.
An array of numbers, truck types and sizes, and traffic-analysis terms (e.g. stacking, sight distances, turning radius) flew back and forth as the plan’s proponents and opponents attempted to come to grips with what would happen when that many trucks hit Eagleville Road.
At one point, Mr. Berlucchi (an engineer himself by training) became mired down in whether numbers being used referred to trucks or truck trips daily — 180, 680, or 340, and whether the numbers should be divided by two, to offset their coming and going and round-trips.
“Whatever,” he said, “the number is huge.”
Mr. Berlucchi said the department of public works that he heads “is responsible for keeping this town clean,” and expressed concerns about litter coming from truck traffic on town roads. “One of my pet peeves is keeping the roads clear” of litter, he said.
“A full litter control plan is required by subdivision regulations,” Mr. Brainsky said. “I believe it requires a radius around the property, but don’t quote me on that.”
Planning board members, who are reviewing the application before their vote, perhaps months from now, refrained from expressing opinions during the meeting itself. The same caution didn’t apply to other speakers.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Director of Public Works Stephen Berlucchi said when given Mr. Brayton’s figures about stacking (trucks backing up waiting to be weighed) on the property and along Eagleville Road. “You only have room to stack one or two vehicles.” About another set of figures, he said,”That’s impossible. That’s just my opinion … I think you’re going to have a lot of traffic issues.”
Planning board member Stuart Hardy asked a series of questions that got Mr. Brayton to agree that Eagleville Road shoulders are different from those on Stafford and Bulgarmarsh Road roads’ shoulders.
“We’ve got some pretty big trucks sharing a road 20-25 feet wide with a kid on a bicycle and a kid walking a dog,” Mr. Hardy observed. “Don’t you see a bit of a hazard there?” he asked. “There’s not much pavement there to share,” he said.
Tiverton Police Chief Thomas Blakey questioned traffic patterns that would result when school buses on local roads mixed with large trucks and other drivers sought to avoid back-ups by taking side streets.
Mr. Hardy asked about diesel emissions and air quality. “There’s a lot of air pollution that comes off diesel trucks,” he said.
Mr. Brainsky responded, saying the matter had been discussed at an earlier planning board meeting, and that “almost all farm equipment, hoes, rakes and “other trucks delivering loam, mulch, and manure” are diesel, and “I’m not aware of any evidence that there’s some sort of environmental issue with diesel emissions in Tiverton.”
To which Mr. Hardy responded, saying, “I’m simply saying the concentration of the traffic does pose an issue. We don’t have 340 farm trucks going up and down a single road every day.”
A portion of the 18-acre Site Ready property lies within the Stafford Pond watershed, and Conservation Commission Chairman Tom Ramotowski expressed concerns about the safety of drinking water in that reservoir. “If that pond is compromised, we’re in trouble.”
Mike Proto concurred. After listing heavy metals (“they can kill you,” he said ) commonly found at recycling sites, he said, “the biggest problem I see is the contamination of our groundwater. Tiverton doesn’t have these problems. Why start now?”
Mr. Ramotowski raised the point, which Mr. Brainsky did not dispute, that Tiverton’s own trash could not legally be recycled at the proposed Site Ready location. “The state of Rhode Island owns Tiverton’s trash,” Mr. Ramotowski said.
Moments before members of the public were invited to speak, Mr. Brainsky made a new offer: If the planning board approved the proposal, he said, his client would agree to reduce daily tonnage from 1,500 to 750 per day, and the number of trucks from 680 to “145 new trucks and 185 total trucks” per day. “We think it’s a significant reduction,” he said.
Planning Board Chairman Stephen Hughes asked for the new proposal to be stated in writing.
“Some of the safety issues will not go away because the traffic volumes have been decreased. They are that significant, that serious,” Mr. Hardy said of the reduction idea.
Planning board consideration of the application was continued until March 5 to allow the applicant and town to respond to new offers and charges.
Marcello Louro, is also the owner and president of Eagleville Road Realty, LLC, a real estate development company located at the same address as Site Ready, and is also listed as president of L.A.L. Construction Co., which operates at the same location.