Friday, April 14, 2017

Plainfield Township rejects Synagro permit request - issues scathing 16-page response letter to new biosolids plant application

The Easter Bunny lays an egg on Synagro's latest site plan

Synagro first filed a Site Plan in October 2016 to locate a biosolids processing facility where it is not permitted in Plainfield Township.  Synagro filed an updated version of this plan in December, and was informed shortly afterwards that this Site Plan requires two Use Variances.  The plan has been tabled since that time and is scheduled to be continue to be reviewed at the May 15, 2017 Planning Commission meeting.

Proposed Synagro sites depicted at upper and lower left of center (click to enlarge)

On March 31, 2017 Synagro filed another Site Plan, for a different site several hundred feet away.  A review of this Site Plan was done on this blog, is found here, and identified eleven variances this blogger feels will be needed by Synagro.  On a good day, a Zoning Officer will rule variances are needed, and the Zoning Hearing Board will actually evaluate the criteria needed to be granted said variances.  This Site Plan is also on the agenda to be discussed at the May Planning Commission meeting.  Here is a diagram in which topographic lines from sheet 3 of the Site Plan are superimposed on sheet 2.  It is obvious that the property is almost entirely steep slopes, and that the proposed traffic pattern across what Synagro claims is the rear yard (but is actually the side yard) to a neighboring property is nonsensical and does not comply with the Ordinance:

Synagro's new proposed site is covered with steep slopes... and a 90' deep quarry
Where do the cars and trucks go? (click to enlarge)

A review/response letter was issued by Plainfield Township on Tuesday April 11, 2017.  The letter addresses several points:
  • A Zoning Permit is denied
  • Several potential deficiencies are itemized, which are similar to those noted in the review done on this blog - steep slopes, setbacks, yards, loading/unloading, parking, access drives
  • Synagro is put on notice that proof of compliance with the standards of the Ordinance, including professional testing and results, may be required in order for a permit to be issued
Notable additional variances would be needed
On this blog, it was proposed on April 11 that based on the March 31 Site Plan variances will be needed to Sections 503.J.1.c, 503.J.1.d, 318.I, 201.B, 703.A.7, 703.D, 704.B.2, 704.B.3, 704.B.6, 315.B.35.a, 315.B.35.b of the Zoning Ordinance in addition to a SALDO waiver of 10.7.D.

The review letter identifies an additional issue which may result in a variance - the proposed use modifies the bank of a water body that is identified on Synagro's own site plan as an "existing pond", and creates a parking lot within 10' of the new bank.  Section 505 of the Ordinance states that all areas within 50' of a pond shall be "open space" - which the Ordinance states shall not include parking areas.  Thus a dimensional variance of Sec 505 would be needed, and also trigger a variance to Sec 315.B.35.g which requires that this Use meet all requirements of Article 5 of the Ordinance (which contains Sec 505).  This brings this blog's grand total of variances needed to 9 Use variances and 4 dimensional variances - lucky 13.

The review letter does not specifically state that variances are required, but takes a more laid back approach of "this is not permitted by the Ordinance - show us how you will address it."  The letter is what one might expect in response to a Sketch Plan being submitted for an informal review, which is what the March 31 plan appears to be.  If Synagro continues to press forward with this rubbish as a Site Plan, they will be notified of variances required.

Here is the Zoning Officer's review letter, co-authored by Zoning Officer John Lezoche and Alternate Zoning Officer/Township Manager Tom Petrucci.  It is addressed to Synagro's local legal representative, Matthew Goodrich.  Mr. Goodrich appeared to blow a head gasket following the December 2016 Plainfield BOS meeting in which is was discussed that Synagro's use is not permitted on the original site (despite Mr. Goodrich's representation at the Nov 21, 2016 Planning Commission meeting that Synagro's use satisfies the Ordinance in every way - it does not).  He is unlikely to feel much better after reading the review of the new plan:

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