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Trash station filed day before freeze

Even though the St. Louis County Health Department recently trashed Fred Weber Inc.'s proposal to build a trash-transfer station in Oakville, the company submitted another application for a different site — just one day before a six-month permit freeze on such stations took effect.

Fred Weber's latest proposal for its south quarry location was filed Oct. 1 — one day before the freeze took effect. The company's application asserts that the quarry location would be 1,200 feet away from any residences, churches, schools or child- and adult-care centers.

But Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, said he is not so sure Fred Weber's proposed transfer station is actually 1,200 feet away from such buildings. In August, the County Council approved legislation that prohibits the construction of any transfer station or waste processing facility within 1,000 feet of those structures.

Two weeks ago, the county Department of Health denied Fred Weber's request to build a transfer station on Baumgartner Road, citing health reasons, but that the proposal also violated the county's 1,000-foot restriction.

Campisi and his administrative assistant, Lou Chiodini, a former engineer, are investigating how far away the south quarry transfer station off Baumgartner Road really would be from buildings outlined in the recently adopted policy. They have reason to believe, Campisi said, Fred Weber may be measuring from building to building. But they should be measuring property line to property line, he said.

"This thing was dropped on us. I am sure it was done strategically to throw us off. And it has," Campisi said. "This is a company. They are looking at following the rules. They have done that and are under no obligation to contact us, but a lot of developers do out of courtesy. Fred Weber has chosen not to do so."

Campisi said once he learned of the new proposal, he and Chiodini have been pulling as much information as possible to see how the station would affect county residents. They soon discovered the proposed property lies in a flood plain — the same plain that was covered in eight feet of water during the flood of 1993.

"Since it is in a flood plain, there are a lot of things to consider," Campisi said. "The piece of property will be raised up out of the flood plain, but we don't know how it will be done. Will they bring dirt in? There are a lot of rules and regulations they will have to follow and we are not seeing anything on the proposal just yet."

By the end of October, the Planning Commission should finalize its proposed limit of how many transfer stations would be permitted in the unincorporated areas of the county. Commissioners also will offer restrictions regulating the proximity of waste facilities. Campisi said this information will be helpful in evaluating Fred Weber's new proposal

"If it comes down to me, I will assert my power of review and take it back to the people like I always have done and have a meeting," he said.

He said he is concerned, since it appears as if the station will sit on a constructed island in the quarry, that there definitely will be a water-runoff issue, which could affect trash going into the nearby Meramec River. These issues, he said, are not addressed in the proposal.

In November 2002, Fred Weber proposed a transfer station facility close to the currently proposed site. Campisi said Oakville residents, at that time, were very much opposed to that station. Those were the same people, he said, who opposed the recently denied proposal on Baumgartner Road. Through media coverage and their efforts, he said more people are aware of the transfer stations and he expects the same amount of opposition — if not more — against the quarry site.

Derrick Standley of the Genesis Solid Waste Group Inc., consultant for Fred Weber, said the company did not wait and submit its application after the six-month moratorium ended because there is a need for a transfer station in the area.

"The reality is the site complies with St. Louis County code, so why not?" Standley said. "This site is one of few that is acceptable ... If it's acceptable, then why wait?"

He said the new transfer station proposal is similar to the proposal for the station on Baumgartner Road, which the health department denied two weeks ago.

Standley said he does not expect the same opposition because the proposed station will be 1,200 feet away from residences.

"The bottom line is the sight does fit within the ordinance developed by Campisi in cooperation with citizens down there," he said. "There are only half a dozen that are acceptable. We really don't expect to hear more opposition ... I don't know what the justification would be ...''

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