Saturday, April 8, 2017

Is Synagro's new application to locate a biosolids crap bakery in Plainfield Township a "done deal" because it is a permitted use? Absolutely not.

Synagro emailed a press release to a couple of local reporters on Friday afternoon March 31 at about 3:30pm.  At this very same time, a new site plan was dropped off at Plainfield Township by a Synagro representative.  Perhaps the press release was emailed by this person as he departed the municipal building.  The press release stated that Synagro worked hard to relocate its plant in the Solid Waste zoning district, where it is a permitted use.  Of great interest to this observer is that this press release still has not been posted on Synagro's website - not in the general area for press releases or the page for this project.  They may have worked hard, but they didn't work smart.  You will marvel at how they squashed their plant into a slice of land too small for even a house, and a waste water treatment plant on one of the only small areas not fully containing steep slopes at the southern boundary.  Perhaps not being proud of the result explains why this new plan is not advertised on Synagro's website.  And perhaps there is a more sinister explanation.
"I heard Synagro filed an application for a building permit.  Does this mean they are "in" and will start building soon?  Preposterous.  One Plainfield Township procedure that initiates a Site Plan review is to file a form titled "Building Permit Application," which results in a Zoning Officer response.  Synagro didn't do this for its first application - it chose to try to slam its Site Plan through by filing on the deadline and simply showing up and attempting to get planning commission approval in one night. They did this time however - and it may be that they were hoping for what is called "deemed approval" if the zoning officer fails to respond in 15 days.  The first thing that happens if your use requires a Site Plan approved is the zoning officer responds with a rejection letter indicating he can't issue you a permit..  A building permit isn't even in the picture until the Site Plan is approved.  If Synagro were to ever obtain approval from Plainfield, they then would have to get permits from DEP and Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and a building permit.  Nobody's building as much as a tree fort any time soon.
This is a portion of the form Synagro filed - this will generate a denial of building permit
letter from the Zoning Officer and cause the Site Plan to be put on the schedule for review

Here is an artist's depiction that includes both the initial site as well as the new one.  The first site required two use variances - one for multiple uses and one for a non-permitted use, and a third variance (dimensional) because the area proposed is less than required.  Note that the two sites are adjacent to each other, and are separated by an old railroad bed (yellow area) that is owned by Plainfield Township. The railroad bed divides the Commercial Industrial and Solid Waste zoning districts in Plainfield Township.

Artist's rendering of Synagro's two crappy proposals

Location relative to zoning districts and tax parcels

Below is one sheet of Synagro's new site plan, and it depicts a proposed berm that will keep cars, trucks, storm water runoff and such from falling into the Doney Quarry #2.  You can't tell in this particular diagram, but the parking lot for employees is located on a slope of over 70%. We'll see that later.

Sheet 2 of Synagro's March 31, 2017 Site Plan, with overlay of usable/unusable portions of proposed site

The zoning ordinance requires a five (5) acre lot for Synagro's use.  Note that only about 1.65 acres of 7.01 acres is accessible and/or usable in the proposed plan, and as a result Synagro's trucks will be taking a novel route across a new proposed footprint of the existing energy center property for loading and unloading.  Jesus H. C. (my dad's favorite expression RIP) - you can't even park one of Synagro's trucks on this postage stamp without blocking employees or other trucks from coming/going.  How do you wash a truck after it dumps its "load"?  While unloading, trucks will be sitting within the rear yard setback, as well as maneuvering back and forth on the neighbor's property.

This plan will require multiple variances in this observer's opinion - both use and dimensional variances.  Just because you are a permitted use does not mean you can waltz in the door slinging crap around some big shit shot.  The need for these variances will be detailed in a post tomorrow.  Simpy put, this plan is a pile of crap befitting transport in one of Synagro's sludge trucks - which if you look closely are depicted in the picture at the top.  This is fairly clear from just the diagrams above, without going into further analysis.  Your BS alarm should be sounding before cracking the ordinance open - mine did.  Pardon me sir, would you like a vomit bag while you browse?

Plainfield Township is to be returned use of its property after the landfill closes per a legally recorded agreement - something Synagro representative Jim Hecht recently stated he is unaware of.  Did Waste Management tell Synagro about the agreement?  More importantly, why didn't Waste Management approach Plainfield Township to discuss the agreement prior to allowing Synagro to pursue the new plan - which unlike the first plan requires use of township property that Waste Management (Grand Central) has committed to relinquish?  Mr. Hecht said Synagro plans to run its plant for long after the landfill's anticipated closure in roughly 2035, depending on the rate of disposal.  That may create a wrinkle, since the new plan would require continued use of Plainfield's property... more to follow.

Synagro is going nowhere with either of their site plans.  The new one is a Hail Mary Queen of Craps.  How a professional engineer could send the latest doo-doo out the door is beyond belief.  Perhaps Synagro believes that the groundswell of support from the community (which thus far consists of Wind Gap council remaining oddly silent, and Pen Argyl and Plainfield essentially voting against the proposal) will give planners and zoners cause to approve this "plan".  Luckily Plainfield Township has committed to fighting this project by hiring their Solicitor and as many experts as needed.  Plan C will likely be Plan A - after Plan B is exposed as being dung, Synagro may attempt to pursue the site where they are not a permitted use and where they really want to be.  And that will be fun if that is their plan.  Why Syngaro has not walked away from this project has a lot of people scratching their heads.  And Green Knight hasn't said what it is getting out of this deal that as a non-profit they should be returning to the communities of the Pen Argyl Area School District.  Green Knights' donations have dropped and it isn't clear what if anything they will be distributing to the communities in the future.

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