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Fred Weber challenges county's constraints on transfer stations

Fred Weber Inc. has come out in full force and is not backing away from denial letters or county restrictions on trash-transfer stations — it's challenging them.

F.W. Disposal South on Oct. 6 submitted an appeal to the County Council that disputes the Department of Health's "po-litical" decision to deny the company's proposal to construct a trash transfer station on Baumgartner Road.

The next day, F.W. Disposal South filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court here that challenges the legality of the County Council's six-month moratorium that freezes the health department from issuing permits for waste-processing facilities and trash-transfer stations.

One day before that moratorium became effective, Fred Weber submitted a new application for another Oakville transfer station at its South Quarry site.

A need exists for transfer stations in south county and Fred Weber is going to do everything within its power to get one, according to Derrick Standley of Genesis Solid Waste Group Inc., consultant for Fred Weber.

"The overall goal out of all this is to get the facility sited," Standley told the Call. "Also, when we have a great system of government, it has to function within the laws that are in place."

Fred Weber contends the county has not been following the law, or its own ordinances for that matter, according to a press release the company issued Oct. 8.

"This ordinance (moratorium) changed the land-use qualifications for location of a transfer station and, in the opinion of F.W. Disposal South, LLC was passed by the council illegally," the press release stated.

" ... The county failed to comply with the procedural safeguards and requirements of the St. Louis Zoning Ordinance in that no proper notice was provided, nor was there consideration by or a recommendation to the St. Louis County Planning Commission, or hearings necessary to effectuate a change in land use as required by the St. Louis County Zoning Ordinance."

Fred Weber describes the moratorium as unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.

The "unlawful" and "unenforceable" ordinance was passed while Fred Weber's application was pending and the company believes that councilmen approved the moratorium for the sole reason of preventing the Oakville transfer station from ever being built, according to Fred Weber's statement.

County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, authored the moratorium legislation.

Campisi said the permit freeze is "very legal," otherwise County Counselor Pat Redington would have advised councilmen.

"I am comfortable with it," Campisi told the Call. "There was nothing political about it ... There had to be some sort of regulations put in place.

"There was a rush of waste transfer licenses we were being asked to recommend, but there was nothing in place to regulate that sort of thing. It was just a matter of protecting the constituents around the surrounding areas,'' Campisi added.

However, Fred Weber said the health department's decision to deny its trash transfer station on Old Baumgartner and Baumgartner roads were not only political, but also unlawful and incorrect.

"The F.W. Disposal South LLC application was substantially similar to applications filed for three other transfer stations," according to a Oct. 7 press release. "All three of the other transfer stations were approved by the Depart-ment of Health ... In short, F.W. Disposal South, LLC, believes the Department of Health's decision was made for political, not substantive reasons."

On Oct. 1, Department of Health Director Jacquelynn Meeks sent a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources advising it that F.W. Disposal South's application was "not in compliance with applicable health codes."

Following state law, the DNR ceased processing Fred Weber's application.

Concurrent approval from both departments was mandatory for the company to obtain a permit to construct the trash station.

Janet Williams, health department division director for environmental protection, said the department is reviewing the appeal and working to gather as much information as possible concerning the Baumgartner trash transfer station proposal for county councilmen.

Also, Meeks will send a letter stating her position on the appeal to county councilman.

Meeks was out of town last week and unavailable for comment.

Williams said it is not known how long it will take the department to consider the appeal.

Campisi told the Call the health department is moving swiftly on a decision.

"I just think the health department already came up with its recommendation already giving them reasons why their proposal was denied — I think that ought to be enough," Campisi said.

Even though Fred Weber is appealing the health department's previous decision, it is continuing to pursue its new proposal for a transfer station at its South Quarry site that Fred Weber claims would be 1,250 feet from the nearest home.

"The South Quarry Transfer will be one of the most remote facilities in St. Louis County," the Oct. 7 release stated.

Standley told the Call that transfer stations help to im-prove, not hurt, quality of life eliminating the need for more landfills in south county.

"We're doing our best to do the right thing in the long term," he said.

The health department still is in its initial phases of re-viewing the new application and no public hearings have been set.

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