Site Ready's compost registration expires but activity continues
TIVERTON — Despite an expired authorization, Site Ready Materials & Construction Co. continues to operate a leaf and yard waste composting facility at 322 Eagleville Road.
The registration that authorized Site Ready's composting activities was issued by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) on Jan. 1, 2012, and expired on Dec. 31, 2012.
Site Ready's lawyer, Eric Brainsky, said Saturday that the company filed an application for renewal last December. Gail Mastrati, a spokesperson for DEM, confirmed Friday that the renewal application had been submitted, but that "the registration has not yet been renewed."
The decision whether or not to renew is pending, she said. "Check back in a week or two."
Meanwhile, "It's safe to assume that the operation has continued," said Mr. Brainsky.
Last month the City of Fall River disclosed that it is trucking all its yard waste and single stream recycling to Site Ready.
Ken Pacheco, director of community maintenance for the City of Fall River, said Jan. 11 that each week the city transports around twenty four 10-wheeler truckloads of yard waste to Site Ready.
The disclosure comes at a time when the Tiverton Planning Board is considering a Master Plan Application from Site Ready "to increase the recycling capabilities" of the Eagleville Road operation.
Residents have raised objections to Site Ready's plans, to the truck traffic it would bring to Eagleville Road, and to the potential impact of composting and recycling activities on the watershed for Stafford Pond, which provides drinking water to the town.
Brian O'Neill, president of the Stafford Pond Watershed Association, said Sunday that "our concern is that this is a drinking watershed area, and nobody knows where the groundwater goes. That's a huge concern.
"We wouldn't want to see the registration renewed until the town knows they're doing things by the book, and it doesn't appear right now that they are," he added.
The Town of Tiverton and Site Ready disagree about whether Site Ready is in compliance, or needs to comply, with town ordinances that require a special use permit (SUP) to operate a composting facility. The town contends that such a permit is required by town ordinance.
The registration issued by DEM, according to a cover letter to Site Ready's President Marcello Louro on Jan. 19, 2012 from Christopher Shafer, an environmental scientist with DEM's Office of Waste Management (OWM), states that the registration has "conditions attached."
Condition #5 — says that Site Ready has a "responsibility to comply with other local ... requirements or regulations that are pertinent to the facility."
The DEM registration form does not ask the applicant to identify relevant local municipal requirements. Rather, it asks the applicant to identify any enforcement actions brought by the town against the applicant in the past.
Tiverton Building and Zoning Official Gareth Eames cited this ordinance requirement in two memos (Jan. 8 and 18, 2013) to Town Administrator James Goncalo, noting that Site Ready was engaging in activities (the processing and manufacturing of compost) requiring a permit that he said Site Ready does not have.
Ms. Mastrati of DEM said Friday that her department "was told in January 2013 that the firm does not have a special use permit from the town. That is an issue between Site Ready and the Town of Tiverton."
Mr. Brainsky said Saturday that DEM visited the Site Ready facility on Friday, Feb. 1, "and didn't issue any violations," nor has it done so following other repeated inspections, he said. "It's our position that we are in compliance," and that "we do not need a special use permit."
Mr. Brainsky said, "The zoning code provides for this type of use on the site. Why all of a sudden, after four years of operation, should we have to go through the regulatory process, especially when it's been inspected multiple times by the zoning official ... We have been served with no enforcement action" by the town. "If the town were to issue a notice of violation, we would go to court immediately."
Mr. O'Neill said, "If the town requires a special use permit, then the company should have it to continue in business and be good neighbors."
Kielty Pelletier, who lives on Eagleville Road, said "zoning hasn't been enforced in the town," and that "DEM should absolutely not renew the application for Site Ready as they are not in compliance as they are currently operating."
She said Senator Christopher Ottiano (R - Dist 11) met with DEM Director Janet Coit on Jan. 9 about citizen concerns.