Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Synagro biosolids plant in Plainfield Township requires two use variances, and doesn't merit being granted either one

As reported here, Synagro was notified after the Nov 21 2016 Planning Commission meeting that they would need a Use Variance for another principal use on the target lot.  Their variance application shows that they are desperate to try to make a square peg fit a round hole, as they argued a variance is merited because there are and historically been several principal uses on the lot, which is crazy talk.  Only recently was a gas pump added, for which a variance was obtained, so there are currently two principal uses on the lot.  Variances do not set a precedent.

Next up, let's examine another Use Variance that is needed that has not yet been flagged.  When a new Use is proposed, the Zoning Officer is to go through the ordinance and see if that use is permitted, and where.  In this case, there is a use in the Solid Waste Processing and Disposal District - SW that matches Synagro's use, called "Material Separation Facility".  This is defined as:
Furthermore, "solid waste" is defined as:

A Material Separation Facility is permitted in only one zoning district - SW.  Since Synagro's use is provided for in Plainfield's ordinance, the Zoning Officer can't use a general "kitchen sink" section of the ordinance to allow it in another district, which is what happened here.  He allowed this use in the CI district, as a use "similar" to a recycling facility.  Here is the definition of that:
There is no similarity between processing crap and the processing of cardboard, paper, glass and metal waste.  But the critical problem is the Use is the same as Material Processing Facility, a use only permitted in the SW district.  This is to be expected - the SW district was designed with processing crap in mind:

Look for the phrase "although the proposed use is not specifically defined in the ordinance..." in the Zoning Officer's interpretation below.  This is not an accurate statement - thermal processing of solid waste is specifically provided for in the ordinance, as seen in the definition of Material Separation Facility shown above.

Plainfield Township Zoning Officer Review of Synagro Application for Biosolids Plant

Since the Use is provided for in the Ordinance in the SW district, placing it in another zoning district (CI) constitutes a Use Variance.  The criteria for a use variance are strict, and you must prove a hardship.  A hardship would be the lot can't otherwise be used, there are unusual characteristics of the lot, the hardship is not self created.  The lot is one of the most productive lots in Plainfield Township, and there is nothing unusual about the topography.  It is self created.  There is no hardship, so there is no chance for Synagro to obtain the needed use variances.
Stick a fork in 'er - she's done

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