Monday, July 24, 2017

Synagro changes course and will seek regulatory approval prior to proceeding with zoning permit review of Plainfield Township biosolids facility

Textbook example of placing the cart before the ass

Tonight's planning commission review of Synagro's application for a zoning permit to construct a 400 ton per day crap bakery in Plainfield Township, situated along Plainfield Township's Recreational Trail, was requested by Synagro to be tabled.  The reason for tabling was incompletely described in an Express Times article as "Synagro requires more time to prepare."

Synagro sent a letter to the township on July 11 with a more detailed explanation.  It turns out that Synagro will seek to obtain regulatory permits (eg DEP, DRBC) prior to proceeding with its quest for a zoning permit.  The township had previously cautioned Synagro in correspondence that it could not issue a permit prior to obtaining these permits, but at the June 12 planning commission review counsel Matthew Goodrich attempted to argue that the township has issued permits in the past conditioned on obtaining approval.  However, the examples he referred to were land development plans, not zoning permits.  Furthermore, Goodrich argued in writing on May 30 that Synagro's sought permit "can be approved conditionally" Can is not the same as must - surely Mr. Goodrich knows the difference.

Attendees of the June 12 planning commission meeting heard only a handful of questions asked of Synagro following its lengthy presentation, but they were excellent questions that may have helped Synagro realize the commission does not have the information it needs prior to making a recommendation.  Synagro was unable to state its proposed operating hours, exactly where its waste water will be directed (one of two high quality cold water fisheries), or how much waste water is generated each day.  These are questions that will be answered after the regulatory review process is complete.

Here is the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance article that covers the issue:
Zoning Ordinance clearly states that no permit
shall be issued prior to obtaining regulatory approval

Here is the July 11 letter in which Mr. Goodrich has an epiphany of sorts, and states that Synagro will take a detour and obtain regulatory approval prior to proceeding with review of its application before the planning commission:

Synagro counsel Gooodrich grudgingly announces change of course in pursuit of permit

Clearly Mr. Goodrich's attempts to bully the township have failed.  He is belly aching about the expense this will cause Synagro - what about the expense of the township defending itself against this universally despised proposal?  Perhaps instead of demanding a permit, and now requesting the DEP or Delaware River Basin Commission issue permits, Synagro should apply for the eight zoning variances it requires - that would save everyone time and money and end this process, because Synagro does not have the hardships required to be granted variances.  On June 12, six hours after Mr. Goodrich received a Zoning Officer review letter indicating these variances are needed, he incredibly stated to the planning commission that Synagro believes it needs no variances.  Did he read that letter?  This is one case after another of putting the cart before the ass.