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County halts waste facility permits

The proposed trash-transfer station on Baumgartner Road in Oakville will not be constructed if the County Council has anything to do with it, according to Councilman Kurt Odenwald, R-Shrewsbury.

The County Council voted unanimously last week to approve legislation that, for six months, prohibits the Department of Health from processing new permit applications for trash-transfer stations and waste processing facilities in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The moratorium does not stop the health department from continuing to evaluate proposals that were submitted before the Sept. 16 council meeting, which includes a transfer station application submitted by Fred Weber Inc. for Baumgartner Road in Oakville.

Derrick Standley of the Genesis Solid Waste Group Inc., a consultant for Fred Weber, said the company has not taken itself out of the running for its proposed transfer station. Its application still is being processed, he said, and no health department official has informed him otherwise.

"We are waiting to hear just like everyone else," Standley said.

However, councilmen said they opposed the Oakville proposal and will do everything within their power to prevent the proposed Fred Weber transfer station from being constructed.

"There isn't anyone on here who ... doesn't have the same opinion that this isn't ap-propriate — that location that was applied for," Odenwald said. "We can all speak pretty assuredly that it won't happen from this council. And I don't think it's going to happen. I really don't."

Chairman Gregory Quinn, R-west county, agreed and said he could not look into his crystal ball, but he does not see the Fred Weber project ever going into the proposed site on Baumgartner Road.

"I would anticipate that this council turn down any appeal that's made," Quinn said. "In other words, turn down this particular trash transfer station ... in south county. I think everyone's indicated that the council is against this."

Councilmen have said that the six-month permit freeze will be used as a time to discuss zoning issue with city planners and to create firmer regulations regarding waste management in the county.

In August, councilmen unanimously approved legislation that now prohibits the construction of transfer stations or waste processing facilities within 1,000 feet of churches, residences, schools, child-care centers or nursing homes. Planners would use this moratorium, according to councilmen, to find sites in the county that would not violate the 1,000-foot buffer zone.

A need exists for a trash transfer station in south county, Standley said, and he hopes councilmen use their time wisely during the moratorium and work toward solutions.

"It's OK so long as that during those six months the county endeavors with diligence to come up with a plan that will place a transfer station somewhere in south county," Standley said. "It becomes problematic if they spend six months and don't do anything ... Someone is going to put one (transfer station) into south county.

"As more disposal sites close in the area, it's not a matter of of convenience. It's a matter of necessity to get the trash moved out of the south county area."

Councilmen revised the moratorium several times before finally approving it Sept. 16. The original six-month moratorium in-cluded a Fred Weber exemption. Council-men threw out the exemption, but then shortened the moratorium to four months.

On Sept. 16, councilmen substituted the bill again to revert back to a six-month moratorium. Quinn said he had wanted to move quickly on the matter, but after discussion with other councilmen, he realized four months was "optimistic" and he was in favor of the six-month license freeze.

Councilmen Skip Mange, R-Town and Country, said that the council still should move quickly in the six months it has to devise solutions to the waste-management issue throughout the county.

"It's critically important that once we put this moratorium into effect that the staff gets immediately on this and that the study moves forward," Mange said. "The moratorium is fine, but we're going to have to move forward swiftly on looking at this whole subject."

Councilman Michael O'Mara, D-north county, added that the county has a long way to go in finding a permanent solution not just for south county, but for the county as a whole.

"I was not comfortable at the beginning with the moratorium," O'Mara said. "It needed some adjustment for your protection (south county residents)."

However, the moratorium is a good short-term solution while the county involves itself in a long-term effort, O'Mara said.

Councilmen also discussed using funds generated by tipping fees to bring in consultants that would help guide the county during the six-month planning period.

Odenwald said he supported the moratorium and the need for consultants to help form a "solid" waste-facility plan.

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