Monday, July 16, 2018

Synagro finally admits it needs a variance to access its site - announces plan to use Pen Argyl Road

At the Monday continued review of Synagro's proposed crap bakery in Plainfield Township, Use did a mini presentation.  Express Times reporter John Best was there - probably because Synagro invited him for their "breaking news".

The presentation was designed to address the four zoning variances that Synagro has known for months its plan requires.  Two of the variances are trivial - a small alteration to a parking lot dimension, and paving the parking lot.  The other two variances are not trivial - one is road access, and the other is Synagro's proposed plant is within a few feet of a pond that is connected to an aquifer.  Plainfield's zoning ordinance requires a 50' setback from a water body.

Use variance #1 - road access
The big reveal of the night was that Synagro is now planning to access its site from Pen Argyl Road.  The Plainfield ordinance requires this specific use to access from an arterial or collector road - Pen Argyl Road is a collector.  A separate entrance and exit is also required.  Synagro has not submitted a new Site Plan that reflects this change, but the picture below is a sketch of what is purported to be proposed.  The area in red on the right is where the access drive would be.  Synagro believes that this proposal will satisfy the ordinance requirement that currently is not met.  A highway occupancy permit will be required, and a modification of the landfill's permit.  Synagro did  not provide many details of exactly how trucks will move around the site using this proposed access point, but stated they would when new plans are submitted at the end of the month. ("Final" plans - lol - they've made up this entire project as they went along and confronted with questions they could not answer).  Will Synagro's trucks require use of township property as in previous plans?

Synagro's proposed access from Pen Argyl Road, announced on July 16, 2018

Several residents in the audience were unimpressed and displeased to learn that Synagro is exploring Pen Argyl Road, as landfill access via this road was problematic in the past.  Where would shit haulers park, while waiting for the site to open?  Currently they can stack up on Waste Management's driveway from Route 512.  Synagro appeared to claim at this meeting that trucks will not arrive early, but at the previous meeting they said some may and would wait on the Grand Central access drive off of Route 512.  Different night, different story.  What will PennDOT think of shit haulers waiting to turn off of Pen Argyl Road, while garbage trucks using the haul road block entry?  Approval of a highway occupancy permit is far from certain.  On paper it looks... problematic?

Use variance #2 - the pond that is a pond is a pond
A consultant for EarthRes - engineers for the worst nuisance uses known to mankind - argued that Sedimentation Basin #2 is not regulated by PA Chapter 105, but he stated multiple times that it is a regulated water body according to Pennsylvania law.  These two concepts are mutually exclusive - since it is a regulated water body, by definition it is subject to Chapter 105.  The EarthRes engnieer was gilding the lily.  Putting lipstick on a pig.  The basin has approval be DEP to be exempt from one requirement of Chapter 105 - a permit to fill it or alter its course of flow.  This is known as an "Obstruction and Encroachment Permit", and Synago/Waste Management doesn't require one to partially fill the quarry.  Encroachment is defined in Chapter 105 as alternation of a water course - not encroachment within a required setback - which is what the township ordinance covers.

Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Executive Director of the Delaware River Keeper, spoke at the podium on behalf of members that her organization represents, and presented an engineer's review that found that the pond is a regulated water body.  Synagro and Waste Management attorney Matthew Goodrich attempted to poo-poo Ms. Carluccio's expert, but the facts are clear - it is a water body.

Township manager Tom Petrucci questioned the EarthRes engineer - how will your new submission address Section 27-505 of Plainfield Township's ordinance?  This is the section that requires a 50 foot setback from water bodies.  The best the engineer could come up with was "our plan is exempt from dams and waterways."  Dam safety and waterway management is the title of Chapter 105 - Google it.  He is incorrect - Chapter 105 is where it is found that the sediment basin is a regulated water body.  Has nothing to do with and does not supersede the township ordinance.

The significance of this is that  Synagro has been arguing that the sediment basin is not a pond - and not a water body.  Until Monday evening when they finally admitted it is a regulated water body.  Uh oh Lucy.  Lucy got splain'n to do Lucy!  It is a water body, so Plainfield's requirement for a 50' setback from what is known as the "blue line" on the zoning map applies.  Synagro has a roughly 0' setback - as the sketch above shows the parking lot is proposed to be in the pond according to the blue line.  Yeah, that sucks.

But Ricky, it isn't a pond!  Waaaaaah  Ricky!

Synagro stalls its application for sludge plant while remaining surplus waste heat goes up Green Knight Energy Center stacks

Synagro, Waste Management and the Green Knights are continuing the ruse that the proposed shit bakery in Plainfield Township is a “green” project.  The only thing green about it is the money that Synagro and Waste Management seek to roll into their coffers.  The Energy Center will be long gone before half the life of the initial Synagro plant has passed.  You can bet that a new, larger shit plant will take its place once the Energy Center is closed and waste heat is not to be had.

During the May 31 planning commission review of Synagro’s proposal, Synagro representative Jim Hecht admitted that the Synagro plant could be profitable running on 100% natural gas - which is conveniently available on the target property.  The truth is, Synagro doesn’t need Green Knight’s waste heat, or the poor quality landfill gas that comes off the landfill.  What Synagtro desperately needs is a plot of land where a crap bakery can be located.  And Waste Management would love to lease land to Synagro for decades to keep the landfill property producing income - even if it means breaking an agreement with Plainfield Township to give back use of township land after the landfill closes.  And Green Knight, which is supposed to benefit the local citizens not screw them, is a participant in this charade.  As landfill family relative Lisa Perin pointed out, once Synagro is there, they will find a way to never leave because sites to locate such a nuisance operation are extremely hard to find. .  Ms. Perin was unaware when she stated this that there is natural gas already there on the property - but she saw through the obvious ruse that has been spun together in promoting this project.

To date, meetings to review the project have been dedicated to Synagro.  Each meeting has run three hours or more.  Now, Synagro has slowed its proposal to a creepy crawl, by demanding that it only be reviewed during regular planning commission meetings.  This means that Synagro’s project will be reviewed on agendas comingled with other regular business.  Completing the review could take a few more months at this rate.
Will Synagro/Waste Management/Green Knight's golden turn take flight July 15?  Not with an agenda packed so tightly it is constipated

Synagro has supplied a stenographer at the last two planning commission meetings - an intimidation tactic unheard of for a planning review.  There is nothing that is “good faith” about this.  A tape recorder would be a lot cheaper, but cost is no object to Synagro and Waste Management.  On Monday night, there are several items on the agenda, and Synagro is last.  Will Synagro’s stenographer be sitting in the audience, being paid along with its attorneys and consultants for waiting for their turn?

The waste heat of the Energy Center will disappear when landfill gas is no longer generated following the closure of the landfill ten to twelve years from now.  Synagro’s proposal is 20 months old now.  Synagro is apparently in no rush to capture and use the waste heat that Green Knights claims is so valuable, and less and less of it is available as time passes.  A lot can be accomplished in three hours, hardly anything in one hour.  The ruse is falling apart.  Cut the shit boys - your underbelly is showing and it isn’t pretty.

Zoning review scheduled to be discussed Monday night
The township zoning review found several items that need to be addressed in Synagro's application, as well as zoning variances.  This review is scheduled to be completed this evening, time permitting.  Also, Deputy Director Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware River Keeper is scheduled to make comments she was unable to complete at the May 31 meeting due to lack of time.  For over a year, Synagro has been on notice that it does not have the road access to its lot required by the zoning ordnance.  Yet Synagro has not filed an application for the variance needed.  It also proposes to locate its processing plant, raw shit storage, finished shit storage, and trucking of shit all within 50 feet of a deep quarry filled with water.  

PA legislators reviewing solid waste standards as relates to the dumping of waste from out of state
At a July 9 hearing at Wind Gap Middle School, Senator Scavello held a senate hearing to discuss quarries and the ability to easily contaminate the aquifers connected with them.  The hearing was focused on the dumping of waste from NY, CT and NJ into quarries, but the principle of dumping out of state hazardous waste in proximity to a quarry is the same.  You can see a video and submitted written testimony at this link.

Concerned citizens may wish to have a late dinner, and show up at the Plainfield Township Fire Hall at 8:30 to 9 pm to see Synagro’s portion of the meeting.  Synagro does not want you to hear, see or speak at their review - which is why they have demanded to be at a regular meeting that will go for a few hours before their project is discussed.  Don’t fall for showing up promptly at 7pm, getting irritated and impatient and leaving at 8:30 because they haven’t come up yet..  This is what Synagro, Waste Management and Green Knights wants.  Public participation is your right.

As seen below, there is one item of new business, and four items of old business, with Synagro last of the old business.  Synagro demanded to be at this meeting, instead of having a review dedicated to Synagro.  Draw your own conclusions.  Need  a pencil?  A crayon?

Synagro and Waste Management demanded to be on the following crowded agenda, instead of continuing to have dedicated review sessions

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Northampton County, proposed home of Synagro poop plant, moves to ban biosolids/sludge on county owned lands

Reported by

Click picture to read article

According to the article, the county will request those signing contracts to farm county-owned lands to agree to not apply shit (bisolids) onto them.  Note that it is legal to spread shit on farmland, as long as the owner agrees to it.  Executive McClure is apparently charting a course to not agree to it.

Also, future participants in the Northampton County Farmland Preservation program will be asked to voluntarily not apply it - since these people will continue to own the land, they can't be forced to not spread the shit.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Cancellation of June 18, 2018 Synagro poop bakery land development review meeting

The regular meeting of the Plainfield Township Planning Commission scheduled for June 18 at the Plainfield Township Fire Hall has been cancelled due to lack of a quorum.  The proctologist's exmination of the application will continue at a meeting on a date TBD.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Watchdog Delaware Riverkeeper actively monitoring Synagro’s sludge plant application for Grand Central/Waste Management property in Plainfield Township

Next meeting this coming Monday see right margin for details

At the May 31 Plainfield Township planning commission’s continuation of its review of Synagro’s land development plan to locate a crap bakery on Grand Central Sanitary Landfill property, there were several citizens who wished to participate in asking questions of the Applicant and/or making comments on the proposal.  Time became short, as there was a lengthy list of speakers, and they were well prepared and took several minutes each at the podium.  If time permits their comments will be summarized in a post.

While all the speakers had excellent questions and informed points, there were two speakers of note also for who they are.  One was Lisa Perin, granddaughter of the founder of the Grand Central landfill.  She had a lot to say, 99% negative, about Synagro’s proposal.  That will also be covered in a separate post.  Essentially her points were once Synagro is in the township they will never leave because it is virtually impossible to find a site for such a plant, and the cost of hosting a Synagro facility will far outweigh any alleged benefit to Plainfield Township or the other communities affected.

Ms. Perin is a beautiful woman, but she spent her 10 minutes at the podium
bitch-slapping Synagro's proposed poop bakery

Ms. Carluccio had only a few minutes but summed up her preliminary thoughts with
"It's pretty outrageous this application has gotten this far"

While Ms. Perin was able to cover all her points, the other speaker of note, Tracy Carluccio, was not due to time constraints.  Few people in the room may have known who she is or even after she announced she is number two at the Delaware Riverkeeper what the significance of that may be.  Synagro should - the Delaware Riverkeeper recently assisted residents of Upper Mount Bethel Township in winning a settlement to prevent Class B biosolids from being spread by Synagro on three properties in the township.  While Pennsylvania is fairly lax in regards to permitting the application of biosolids, in the case of UMBT there are streams on the properties in question, which allowed for such a settlement to be possible.

The Delaware Riverkeeper gets involved in all kinds of projects that may have an impact on the environment, especially as pertains to the Delaware River Basin.  One example is the East Penn Pipeline.  Riverkeeper is on it.  Since water flows downstream, if a water course can be traced back from the Delaware to a creek with headwaters near a proposed sludge plant (for example), that might be very well be squarely in the crosshairs of the Riverkeeper.  As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to follow any one project, and there are a lot of projects.  The Riverkeeper has a fairly large staff, including its own in-house attorneys.

What practical effect can the Riverkeeper have?  A great one.  In the case of UMBT, a small group of citizens got together and appealed the DEP permit for the application of sludge on the farms in question - Class B requires a permit.  A legal challenge of a decision of the DEP is not done in the usual court system of court of common pleas and Commonwealth Court - there is a special body called the Environmental Hearing Board that hears such appeals.  As the citizens' appeal was moving along, it gained the attention of the Delaware Riverkeeper, which intervened after a significant amount of resources had already been invested. Interestingly the DEP Northeast Region Biosolids Permit manager Timothy Craven testified under oath that he was not aware of what the Delaware River Basin’s standards were for discharges that include runoff from biosolids.  This is damning because the DEP is responsible for enforcing the DRBC’s standards.  The River Keeper and citizens won a settlement with the DEP in which it was agreed DEP would never approve the spreading of Class B biosolids on the farms in question, that DEP would change its standard operating procedures in regards to permitting and monitoring the application of biosolids, and the awarding of legal fees.  Note on page 5 that Attorney Jordan Yeager was enlisted by the Riverkeeper and citizens - Yeager won a very notable case at the PA Supreme Court in the last few years, in which something called the Environmental Rights Amendment took center stage.  Yeager's services are in high demand across Pennsylvania by people and townships fighting water extraction, poop processing, fracking, etc.  In this case, Yeager and the Riverkeeper teamed up to obtain an excellent result for the appellants.

Ms. Carluccio was given very little time to speak.  She was able to quickly correct a very significant misrepresentation that Synagro project representative Pam Racey made.  Earlier Ms. Racey had stated on questioning that in the event a truck back hauling waste water from Synagro is refused offloading at its destination, that a plant in South Jersey is Synagro’s “go-to” and it “will dispose of anything.”   Ms. Carluccio pointed out that this facility closed a year and a half ago.  Ms. Racey had trouble answering many questions with specificity, and in this case she was specific and very wrong.  One speaker pointed out that for someone with 30 years of experience, Ms. Racey did not seem very knowledgeable.  Multiple meeting attendees later agreed they saw this as well.

Through Ms. Carluccio's appearance she put everyone on notice that the Riverkeeper is actively engaged in reviewing Synagro’s proposal, and all of the regulatory applications that have been filed.  On the Riverkeeper’s website, it has links to these materials, as well as a “fact sheet” on Synagro and updates on Synagro’s proposal.

The actual Riverkeeper - Maya K. van Rossum

What this means is that the Riverkeeper is currently lodged in Synagro’s butt hole.  If a permit is issued by DEP, and the Riverkeeper believes there is a justification to challenge it, it is quite possible that the organization will participate in an initial appeal to the EHB.  The Riverkeeper has members in Wind Gap, Pen Argyl and Plainfield Township, so it has standing in people as well as its general commitment to the environment.

Riverkeepeer is the last organization Synagro wants sniffing around its backside

There is a two-pronged legal defense emerging.  At the May 31st meeting township Solicitor Backenstoe made it crystal clear that the township is standing behind its position that Synagro requires zoning relief - zoning relief that it is not entitled to since the property in question is already generating generous income to Waste Management.  Synagro has stubbornly refused to file an application for the variances that have been determined to be required.  Zoning Hearing Board decisions are appealed through the court of common pleas, then to the state, and in rare cases to the state supreme court.  Any DEP permit issued may be appealed to the Environmental Hearing Board.  Thus there are two avenues of appeal available.

A Plainfield Township official has confirmed that Ms. Carluccio and any other citizen who was not able to complete their comments at the May meeting will be given an opportunity to speak at the beginning of the continuation of the Synagro review on Monday June 18 (see sidebar on right margin).  One can assume she will have very educated commentary on the application, to which the Riverkeeper is obviously opposed. This assumes that there is time for Synagro’s application to be addressed.  This is a regular meeting of the planning commission and there are other items on the agenda (below) before Synagro.
  1. Taco Bell (tabled and they are not expected to appear)
  2. Minor Subdivision (residential property wishing to subdivide to 2 lots)
  3. Green Knight Industrial Park II (see article tomorrow on what this may entail if Green Knight appears - hint: Green Knight has a groundbreaking on this project scheduled for June 22, but they have no recorded land development plan.  Will they appear to address contentious outstanding issues before a room full of residents waiting to discuss Synagro?)
  4. Synagro
The official meeting agenda for Monday is here.

This blogger’s guess is that the minor subdivision may take 1/2 hour to 1 hour minimum.  It’s anyone’s guess if Green Knight will have the balls to show up at this venue, even though they have a dog and pony show scheduled for June 22.  History says they really don’t care about recorded plans - look at how they built the Green Knight Energy Center contrary to the recorded plan, and are in violation of it to this day.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Small community that successfully fought Nestle Waters/Deer Park sees four notable residents pass on in four months

Imagine the stories all those who experienced a creek could tell

In 2016, Nestle Waters yanked its application for an ill-conceived water extraction operation to be located along the Buckwha Creek in Kunkletown, Eldred Township.  Eldred residents had pulled together in solidarity to fight the proposal.  At the first township meeting this blogger attended, Helen Mackes and Frank O'Donnell were present.  Helen was a long time member of the township planning commission, and Frank O'Donnell the chairman of the zoning hearing board.  Frank and his wife Marion routinely attended township meetings, and warmly welcomed this blogger and outsider in the cheap seats at the back of the Eldred Township meeting room.

At another meeting, I met Earl Smale, who grew up adjacent to the proposed site for the Nestle operation, and whose father Leon still owned the family house on Kunkletown Road, at ground zero along the Buckwha Creek.  Leon was in a senior living facility nearby.

During researching the background of the site and its property lines - at issue in the application, the name Asher Smith popped up, because Mr. Smith had obtained property from the owners of the old mill decades ago.  This blogger paid no further attention to Mr. Smith, as his name never came up again.  Mr. Smith was in fact living in another senior living facility nearby.

The reader needs to understand, most everything is connected in K-town.  If you moved in later than 1950, you are a newcomer.  Many family names have a lengthy history.  The names Smale and Smith go way back.  Asher grew up on the farm where the Jaeckles now live, up on Church Road past St. Matthews Church and the cemetery where the headstones are evidence of those who labored in decades past.  Another senior K-town son, Vernon Barlieb, dug several of these graves in his youth for less than $20 a day.  It was not dirt that was dug - it was shale.

Kunkletown residents are a hard working and hearty bunch with far-reaching roots, and it is with heaviness that I report that Helen Mackes 87, Frank O'Donnell 81, Leon Smale 90 and Asher Smith 93 passed away in the past 4 months.

Ms. Mackes was a Realtor, factory worker and most recently the tax collector.  She was also a historian, and when the old mill was recently torn down, Helen sat observing for 5 hours.  She was certain that grinding stones would be found, but alas none were left.  When Helen got something in her mind, she stuck to it.  She shared with a fellow observer that day that when she disliked someone, it lasted for life.  This blogger can vouch for this, during the relatively brief time I knew Helen.  Some K-town residents were surprised to see that in Helen's obituary she had a daughter.  This is actually the daughter of Gabby Borger and his wife.  After Gabby passed away in 1977, circumstances were such that this daughter, less than 10 years old, ended up a bit of an orphan.  Helen stepped in and evidently was such an influence on her life that the woman is now considered Helen's daughter - reflecting that Helen had a big heart.

Mr. O'Donnell was a maintenance engineer and carpenter, and he was the president of the Blue Mt. Preservation Association.

Mr. Smale was affectionately known as the "mayor" of Kunkletown.  He was a World War II Army veteran.  He worked for many years as a crane operator, and in retirement drove trucks and a was a school bus in Eldred Township

Mr. Smith was known as the "police chief" of Kunkletown, and a World War II Navy veteran.  He drove buses in the morning, was a carpenter and in the afternoons ran a barber shop.  That's a full plate, and indicative of the work ethic of many of K-town's residents.

While the Nestle affair roiled Kunkletown, it was a brief and turbulent blip on the radar that will soon be largely forgotten.  Ms. Mackes, Mr. O'Donnell, Mr. Smale and Mr. Smith left a lasting legacy and whose spirits are an indestructible part of the fabric of a tightly knit community - a community whose past and future are inextricably intertwined with the ever-meandering Buckwha Creek.  Gone but not forgotten.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Poop finally to hit the fan in Synagro & Waste Management Plainfield Township crap bakery land development plan review Thursday evening

In November, Synagro's attorney Elizabeth Witmer told the Plainfield Township planning commission "we are planning to submit a land development plan that requires no variances.  It will comply with the zoning ordinance."

This did not happen.  In February, Synagro did submit a land development plan - well, Waste Management did in its own name, with Synagro as its tenant.  But that plan does not comply with the zoning ordinance.  The Zoning Office determined that at least four variances are needed.  Two of these are significant: the proposed site is not accessed from a collector or arterial road as required, and the setback from a water body (pond) must be at least 50 feet.  The driveway and parking for Synagro's plant are proposed to be *in* the existing pond.

Also at the November planning commission review, Ms. Witmer stated that Synagro was proposing to meet with the Plainfield Township supervisors in private in order to propose a "swap" whereby Plainfield Township would "trade" a portion of its Recreational Trail that Synagro needs for access to its plant, for other lands that the township may be interested in to complete trail connections.  This blogger has learned that Plainfield Township Solicitor David Backenstoe has stated "the supervisors were not interested in such a discussion, so that meeting never happened."

At the April review, the township engineer's review letter was reviewed, and the planning commission members asked questions.  Synagro's representatives addressed concerns of the township engineer and planning commission members to the best of their ability.  Concerned citizens were given an opportunity to speak.  One nugget that resulted was Synagro abruptly announced that contrary to what it had stated only a few months earlier, that the hours trucks will depart from/arrive at the site was significantly expanded.  Synagro admitted during the meeting that tarps that cover the trucks hauling shit will do nothing to retard odors.

There are two remaining review letters, a short one from the township's environmental engineering consultant BCM Engineers, and a lengthy one from the township Zoning Office.  In addition, the township recenty enlisted BCM to review all the regulatory agency applications that Synagro/Waste Management has submitted - this is an supplementary review that will need to be discussed when time permits - likely not at Thursday evening's review.

It is expected that on Thursday evening the zoning variances that the township has determined are required will be discussed at length.  It was announced that again, concerned citizens will be able to speak   Synagro representative Jim Hecht stated at a recent community event that residents will also be able to ask questions at a prescribed portion of Thursday's meeting.

To date, no variance applications have reportedly been filed by Synagro/Waste Management.  Thus, it appears that at Thursday's meeting there will be a Mexican standoff.  At the end of the day however, if variances are required there is only one solution - apply for them to the Zoning Hearing Board.  The township will lay out its case for why variances are needed.  At the April review, planner Bob Simpson smiled and rolled his eyes when a consultant for Synagro stated "we don't believe it is a pond".  Mr. Simpson designs storm water facilities for a living.  He questioned the Applicant about infiltration and outflow (there is none), and it was apparent to observers that he believes it is a pond.  This is significant because a pond would be the kind of water body that the ordinance requires a 50 foot setback from.  As for the "road" - the access drive that Waste Management uses, which Synagro's trucks would be added to, is certainly not a road.  In addition, there was never a land development or site plan approved for the Green Knight Energy Center to have a driveway across Plainfield Township's Recreational Trail - which is how vehicles currently access the energy center - and this route is proposed to also be used by Synagro.  This is likely to be discussed as well at Thursday's review.

The water body in question is being used as a sedimentation basin for the landfill, as well as catching storm water runoff.  It is quite deep (former Doney Quarry) and must seep into an aquifer, and there is no outflow.  It could be an artificial lake or an artificial pond - either way it is a water body.  Cut the shit.

The Synagro proposal has a few logs in its path - another is regulatory approvals.  Plainfield Township has reportedly filed a request with the DEP for a forum to be held locally, at which citizens can comment and speak their concerns as part of the DEP permitting process.

The review of Synagro/Waste Management's proposal is a process.  Thursday evening may be a watershed of sorts.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Synagro quietly announces trucking operations will take place an additional 25 hours weekly at proposed Plainfield Township facility

At the November 29, 2017 review of Synagro's sketch plan, Synagro representative Jim Hecht was questioned about operating hours, and hours trucks would enter and exit the site.  He was also questioned about the amount of space available for storage of raw material (piles of crap).  Mr Hecht did not seem totally comfortable with the questions, and appeared genuinely confused why they were being asked.

The reason the questions were asked is that beginning at least in April 2017 at a Q&A session hosted by Synagro, Mr. Hecht stated that trucks will enter and leave the site during the hours that Grand Central operates, 7am-4pm M-F and 7am-9am on Saturday.  The plant would run 24/7.

At 400 tons of raw product daily, a hell of a lot of crap would have to be stored so that processing could continue from 9am Saturday to 7am on Monday - almost 800 tons.  300 tons of water is removed from 400 tons of sludge, and beginning in November 2017 Synagro stated it would store and haul waste water off site. Why the concept of storage of both solids and liquids and operating hours was foreign to Mr. Hecht is a bit of a concern - it is obvious what the issue is.

After the November review, Mr. Hecht wrote a follow-up letter on December 12, 2017, confirming that the hours trucks would operate were as discussed at the November meeting, 7am-4pm M-F and 7am-9am Sat..  Here is the letter - but a warning - what he states in it changed by February's meeting.

At the February 2018 Land Development review of the latest and greatest Synagro plan, Mr. Hecht was questioned again about operating hours and his reply changed to 6am to 6pm M-S, six days a week.  Huh, so there was an issue.  Mr. Hecht is the "project developer"!

In the December letter, Mr. Hecht states that raw product will arrive "covered" and much is stated about odor control on site.  At the February 2018 meeting, it was admitted that the "cover" on incoming trucks is a tarp, which will not control odors during transportation on local roads.

Waste Management appears to be planning to not honor its commitment to relinquish use of the Plainfield Township Recreational Trail segment that it was graciously allowed to temporarily use by agreement in 1997.  What else will change by the time this proposal's review is complete?  The addition of 25 more hours that trucks will operate is a very significant detail - one that Mr. Hecht got wrong as recently as December 2017.

Time to refurbish Green Knight Economic Development Corporation - meeting its members' goals, but not the communities' or its stated mission

The Green Knight Economic Development Corporation came into being as a non-profit in 1999 because Waste Management could not convert its landfill gas to electricity and sell to the electric utility itself.

The plan for GKEDC's  Energy Center included the desire to sell waste heat to a business that would locate in the "Slate Belt Industrial Center" - a 19 acre plot that originally was to host three separate commercial operations and is today Techo-Bloc.  Green Knight likes to taut Techo-Bloc as a success but in reality was an embarrassing development failure that struggled to break even.  The Northampton County Industrial Development Authority chipped in money, but no tenants appeared, and certainly none that wanted to consume waste heat.  The only winner in this debacle was J.G. Petrucci, who swept in at the 11th hour and erected the building, and had one tenant (Techo-Bloc) wanting eagerly to move in to the entire site.  Instead of three sites sold, it was one, and there were zero customers for Green Knight's waste heat.

This is where Green Knight's surplus waste heat was to be delivered
Became Techo-Bloc after no one else was interested

Fast forward 17 to18 years, and Green Knight is spinning the arrival of Synagro's proposed crap bakery as the "culmination of a vision".  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The plan never included continuation of a waste processing operation on Waste Management's property, or to supply waste heat to such an operation.  The plan was to attract good businesses nearby, with significant numbers of good paying quality jobs.  Waste Management representative John Hambrose claims that Synagro will have engineer(s) on site.  Really?  A lone engineer at an outpost processing 400 tons of crap daily?  A small to medium-sized tech firm this is most certainly not. Would I want my son or daughter working there?  No, Mr. Hambrose, I would not.

Waste Management's director of landfill gas to energy Mark Messics said in 2001 that the selling of the Green Knight Energy Center's waste heat "would be gravy" over and above the profit of selling electricity to the grid.  Maybe no one at GKEDC or WM has noticed, but the communities affected and surrounding aren't interested in sucking up confiscation of Plainfield Township's property and putting up with odors and air pollution and reduced property values so that gravy can be made for Waste Management and GKEDC.
2001 quote of Waste Management landfill gas to energy director Mark Messics

GKEDC's charter called for a 9 member board, with members comprised of three residents from each of Pen Argyl, Wind Gap and Plainfield Township.  Today, there are eight members, one who lives in Wind Gap, two in Pen Argyl, and five in Plainfield Township.

Carlton Snyder (President)                          John Cuono
Wind Gap Resident                                         Pen Argyl Resident
Robert Cornman (Vice-President)               Larry Feller
Plainfield Township Resident                           Pen Argyl Resident
Peter Albanese (Treasurer)                         John Goffredo
Plainfield Township Resident                           Plainfield Township Resident
Steve Hurni (Secretary)                               Jim Policeli, PE
Plainfield Township Resident                           Plainfield Township Resident

If the charter is inconvenient, just change it
What happened?  First, about five years ago it was questioned that Peter Albanese was using an address he does not live at in Wind Gap to justify his representation of Wind Gap - although he lives in Plainfield Township.  To solve the issue GKEDC didn't do the right thing, but rather simply changed its charter so that if someone has a business interest in a community they "represent it".  That sounds like bull shit for a few reasons.

GKEDC board member solves business concern by resigning, not coming out against Synagro
Second, Stephen Ruggiero, who owns Ruggiero Funeral Home in Pen Argyl reportedly decided that promoting a crap bakery was not compatible with profitably operating a funeral home that brags about its clientele and standing in the community, and he resigned from the GKEDC board over a year ago.  Rumor is that no other Pen Argyl businessperson is interested in being associated with GKEDC's effort to site a crap bakery in the community's backyard - which is why there continues to be an 8 member board.  One representative for Wind Gap, two for Pen Argyl and five for Plainfield Township.

Wind Gap has only one resident GKEDC representative - another resigned for similar reason
John T Dally Jr, son of the former mayor of Pen Argy and Pen Argyl Area School Board member, was a long-time GKEDC member through at least 2016, but resigned.  John is a local real estate agent; and it is reported that he also resigned because he was concerned that association with the Synagro project would hurt his real estate business.  No shit, pun intended.

Think of an alternative, where GKEDC dis-invited Synagro, and Ruggiero and Dally Jr. would have rejoined or still be on the board, and it would have more equal but not equal representation .  Green Knights would have improved their standing in the community - not shit-canned it permanently.

GKEDC board is not listening to the communities
It is patently obvious that GKEDC's board is no longer representative of the community in any way shape or form.   Mr. Ruggiero and Mr. Dally Jr., apparently not out of allegiance to their community but rather their balance sheets, hit the road.  There is neither equal representation of each community, nor respect of the wishes of the communities.  No one wants the Synagro plant, except GKEDC, Waste Management and Synagro.  It's like GKEDC board members are deaf, dumb and blind.  They act as though residents are "missing the big picture" of tax revenue and jobs.  But that is not true - residents are not idiots.  16 jobs, the vast majority crap pushers, and $50,000 plus or minus tax revenue (but not to Pen Argyl or Wind Gap) is not worth it to the thousands who will be affected by the proposed plant.  Close neighbors will have to put up with odors and truck noise (Synagro just announced that truck activity will be 6am to 6pm six days a week, up from the operating hours of the dump).  Motorists will have to travel behind "tarped" trucks hauling shit, and even has Synagro admitted the odor will not be contained by tarps.  As solid waste management supervisor Tracey McGurk at DEP has stated "we may not be able to discriminate between odors from Synagro and Waste Management when complaints are received."  Residents will be affected and screwed, they know it, and they are saying 'no mas" to more solid waste processing.  It's very simple.

Why haven't members of Green Knight acknowledged the deep-throated and comprehensive rejection of Synagro's proposal by the community they supposedly exist to benefit?

Let's take a closer look at the GKEDC board.  It appears that members are appointed for life - unless they quit.  Three members, Robert Cornman Jr, Steve Hurni, and Jim Policelli are former members of Plainfield Township's Planning Commission.  Hurni and Policelli left the township board in the late 1990's, leaving Cornman to handle Waste Management and Green Knight's interests.  As chairman and member of the township planning commission, Mr.Cornman was uniquely positioned to be responsible for understanding and drafting amendments to the township zoning ordinance.  Very odd indeed is that in 1999 and again in 2016 he pushed for a non-permitted use (energy center in 1999 and Synagro plant in 2016) to be located where Waste Management's recycling area is currently located.  He knew in November 2016 (certainly after rejection of 1999's plan) that Synagro's use was not permitted where planned, and still pushed for the planning commission to approve the plan.

Mr. Policelli writes almost monthly letters to the Express Times, denying the existence of global warming.  Yet Green Knight awards scholarships to young people based on "environmental stewardship" according to the GKEDC website.  Mr. Policelli appears to believe in a flavor of environmental stewardship similar to Ms. Trudy Johnston when it comes to shit, and when it comes to the atmosphere that sustains our lives keep your regulations to yourself..  Policelli has never once in his letters to the Express Times identified himself at a member of GKEDC.

Mr. Hurni as a Plainfield Township supervisor has to maintain an unbiased position on Synagro's application, yet is rumored to have said to a neighbor "I don't see what all the fuss is about."  That speaks volumes.

Carlton Snyder has been president of GKEDC since 1999.  A retired electronics technician, whose most notable contribution to a lot of people seems to be his hat.  Mr. Carlton has said that GKEDC looked at certain factors before agreeing to partner with Synagro.  Did GKEDC ever consider the wishes, the welfare and well being of citizens?  The property values of those who reside nearby?  The fact that the current proposal is to take use of Plainfield Township's Recreational Trail for an unknown number of decades beyond what was intended to be use until the landfill closes?

John Cuono has run a Pen Argyl barber shop since taking it over from his father in 1963.  Unlike Mr. Ruggiero, it appears Mr. Cuono has no fear of losing business due to Green Knight's partnership with Synagro.  The relationship between a hair stylist and customers is a close one.  Or perhaps he dreams of retirement.  Cuomo is also the chairman of the Pen Argyl Sewer Authority, so he has a pre-existing condition with shit.  Well John, the shit has really hit the fan this time.

Larry Feller is a chemist, and don't question his usefulness - he is one of two Pen Argyl residents on the board - his mere existence provides Pen Argyl at least 67% of the representation it deserves.

Peter Albanese and John Goffredo both live in Plainfield Township, are both in contracting, and purportedly represent Wind Gap on GKEDC.  They show up at numerous Wind Gap meetings singing the praises of the Green Knight Industrial Park II.- the former Beers property where millions of tires were dumped.  Mr. Albanese is a principal in Wind Gap Electric, Mr. Goffredo is a principal of Nu Cor Management - a construction management company.  Green Knight's scheme at GKIP II was to buy the property for cheap, put a minimal investment into it to create roads and lots, and then sell lots and the buyer will have to develop his own lot.  The state and county have given grants and loans of millions of dollars to assist the project.

GKEDC members associated with contracts at both the Energy Center and YMCA
Let's rewind.  When the Green Knight Energy Center was built, Goffredo's family company MSG Associates Inc did the construction, and MSG Associates was affiliated with John Goffredo's Nu Cor Management at that time.  Wind Gap Electric did the electrical work on the energy center.

When the YMCA was built, funded by a grant of $1m by Green Knight and more by the state, guess who did the electrical work?  Yes, Wind Gap Electric.  Guess who did the construction?  Nu Cor Management.  All in the Family - sweet.  Was the YMCA project competitively bid?  This article says that John Goffredo was "asked" to be involved in the YMCA project - hmm.

On the GKEDC website, it is stated that GKEDC does everything possible to use local labor and provide local firms.  It also states the Directors do not receive compensation.  Hmm.  If I sit on the board, and my company gets a contract to work on a GKEDC project, am I receiving compensation?

Rumor is that John Goffredo has made it known he would be interested in his company participating in building out the infrastructure of the Green Knight Industrial Park II.  Let's hope that since state and county dollars are involved, that the job will be competitively bid.  Did that happen with the construction contract for the energy center?  The electric contract for the Y?

Here is what Green Knight Economic Development Corporation tells the IRS its mission is, every year when it submits its required 990 form:
Peter Albanese states his address is Wind Gap - it is not.  It also is not Wind Gap Electric's address

"Provide economic relief for poor and distressed citizens" is the mission according to the 990.  On their website, it states that the mission is to "provide help to local organizations."  Let's look at the relief and help that GKEDC has given recently.  Here are their grants for the last four years, as reported to the IRS:

* Scholarships are estimated to be 12 running concurrently, at $1,000 a year each per cumulative data on the GKEDC website ($200,000 over 17 years)

That's some support, but it pales in comparison to what took place before around 2011.  It used to be that GKEDC would issue grants for 20 to 25 causes a year, with about $5000 going to each and over $100,000 distributed annually.  Like equipment and uniforms for school teams where a youngster's family could not afford them, as well as a host of other causes.  $32,000 to $37,000 a year in grants and scholarships seems reflective of GKEDC transitioning to another mission - commercial development that could possibly benefit their own board members if the chips fall right.  $133K total giving in four years is pocket change on $7.1m in revenue.
Graphic based on picture found in GKEDC website
In 2006 there were over 15 grant recipients - in recent years, there have been one or two
In 2007, grants were made to 11 recipients in Wind Gap alone, $97,000 plus scholarships for approximately $109,000 - approaching the entire four-year total from 2013 to 2016

Perhaps GKEDC has also changed the mission in its charter .  No one has seen a copy of the charter, but GKEDC states each year that its governing documents are "available to the public".  Perhaps it is time for someone to inspect said documents - before the charter is changed to make them private.

Green Knight's governing documents are stated to be available for public inspection
but the charter is as elusive as President Trump's tax returns...

GKEDC (and WM) acting like past didn't happen and commitments do not matter
Why is it that all the people on GKEDC and the people at the landfill (Scott Perin and his father Nolan who have both attended Synagro's review meetings) are not admitting that Waste Management's agreement to temporarily use the Plainfield Township Recreational Trail was to expire when the landfill closes?  Not a single one has been heard to utter this in public.  The expectation appears to be that Plainfield Township will stand idly by and let its land be absconded.

Why is it that GKEDC is not acknowledging that the plan was never to extend the life of waste processing on the WM property?  The plan was to close the landfill, recover the area as green space.  Instead, they are participating in attempting to partner with Synagro, and costing Plainfield Township residents likely well over $100,000 already in legal and consulting fees to do what Green Knight should have done for free - fought this proposal.

It is said that portraits of the GKEDC members hang in the Energy Center.  Can you imagine?

Who will get the contracts to build the Synagro facility if it is approved?
Should residents even have to concern themselves with this question?  Green Knight casts itself as a champion of local firms and local labor, but who benefits from these contracts?  Is a construction contract going to "trickle down" to the ambulance company, the Boy Scouts, the fire company, the bugle corps?  No - it is going to mostly benefit the contracting company owners.  The benefit to "poor and distressed" citizens comes not from temporary jobs, but from direct contributions as GKEDC did in the past.

Moving forward together, not as Dictator and Subservient residents 
It is evident that Green Knight is not fulfilling its charter, and it is not acting in the best interest of the residents of the Pen Argyl, Wind Gap and Plainfield Township communities.  These changes are needed:
  1. Tell Synagro sorry, but the community doesn't want us to partner with you, and besides, selling the waste heat was seen as "gravy" on top of profit according to Waste Management.  The community does not want a poop train in return for Waste Management and GKEDC's gravy train.
  2. Return to the original mission of benefiting poor and distressed citizens.
  3. Distribute funds to more causes each year, as was done previously.
  4. Institute term limits.  
  5. Represent each community equally as was originally prescribed.
  6. The Plainflield Township Board of Supervisors and Pen Argyl and Wind Gap Borough Councils should appoint their community's municipal representatives on GKEDC, not be left with a bunch of self-appointed and self-serving yahoos.
  7. Open GKEDC board meetings to the public. 
  8. Require a competitive bidding process for any development projects, regardless of the funding source.
  9. Stop issuing contracts to companies associated in any manner with GKEDC.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Conflict of interest plagues Pen Argyl's consultant choice to fight Synagro/Waste Management/Green Knight biosolids plant in Plainfield Township

At the April 4 Plainfield Township planning commission review of Synagro's proposed crap bakery on land owned by Waste Management, in association with Waste Management's purported non-profit arm Green Knight Economic Development Corporation, appeared representatives for Pen Argyl in opposition to the project.  This included Solicitor Peter Layman of Bangor, and environmental consultant Trudy Johnston, President of Material Matters Inc in Elizabethtown.

Peter Layman and Trudy Johnston, representing the Borough of Pen Argyl
in opposition to the proposed Synagro biosolids plant

Some in the audience took note when a representative for Synagro and Waste Management suggested that Ms. Johnston is acquainted with Synagro's planned use.  It turns out that Ms. Johnston is intimately familiar - her company's website states its specialty:
Material Matters offers a range of services relating to all aspects of wastewater solids and residuals beneficial use, including product management, process optimization, demonstration trials and research studies, regulatory permitting, and regulation compliance. 
Hmm.  Let's look deeper to see if this funny smell gets worse.  In a September 3, 2010 Times News article, it is reported that Johnston and fellow employee Jennifer Callahan requested to appear at a Schuylkill County board of supervisors meeting and
distributed literature which presented a highly favorable perspective regarding the use of biosolids when, in fact, the use of such sludge is seen as controversial and a potential threat to health and safety.
Highly favorable perspective from Ms. Johnston on the use of biosolids?  This smells like crap alright.  Here is another odorous sample:


At time stamp 00:10 in the video above on the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association's YouTube channel the speaker indicates Johnston is the president of MABA's board of directors, and the video is dated July 19, 2017.  Wow, the president of this as well as her company - she's the belle of the Brown Stink Ball.  Take note of her enthusiastic manner as she speaks to the shift in public perception of shit through a change of terminology from "sludge" to "biosolids".   Trudy gets shit done, but it seems like she may be enamored with it.  Here is the 2016 Form 990-EZ that MABA files as a non-profit, dedicated to the dissemination of sludge.  Look on page 2, and you will see that in the list of officers Ms. Johnston is at the top of the heap - the president:

Mid Atlantic Biosolids 2016 Form 990EZ on Scribd

Then there is this promotion of the whimsically named Slate Belt Heat Recovery Center, from President Johnston's MABA's website (emphasis added):

Jesus H Christ this looks bad, to use an expression of my father's.  Now let's put it all together, using the sponsor brag from the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association website, with a suggested future entry:

Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association Sponsors for 2018 includes Johnston's Material Matters, Waste Management, and Synagro - Add Green Knight and you have four of a kind!

Green Knight may be the next sponsor to add to this rarified list.  After all, Green Knight for the past five years has had plentiful income but almost eliminated donations to social service organizations - contrary to Green Knight's mission statement.  Yes, they gifted the Blue Mountain Library $10,000 in emergency funds recently, but in the past they would spread over $100,000 in one year to 25 to 30 causes, at $3000 to $4000 each.  They could easily come up with $5000 to give MABA, which they would likely consider a good cause.  Now they appear to be focused on commercial development, and handing opportunities to their own board members to cash in on GK's "philanthropy".  A non-profit tracking agency determined that Green Knight Economic Development Corporation does not meet its criteria as a charitable organization after reviewing GKEDC's IRS Form 900 statements and does not list it in their database, according to a reply to an inquiry as to its absence.  More on Green Knight in a future post.

Holy shit Batman!  What the hell is going on here?  Johnston's entire agenda is to make shit smell better, and spread it as far and wide as possible.  She rubs elbows with Synagro and Waste Management, on the short list of sponsors of the organization of which she is president.  This is who is helping protect Pen Argyl from having a biosolids facility move in next door?

Mr. Layman was the Plainfield Township Solicitor in 1997 when the Trail Agreement/Easement was negotiated with Waste Management.  This agreement turns out to be very weak, in that the end date of Waste Management's use - which was the justification for the agreement - is not directly tied to the landfill shutting down.  Mr. Layman may not appreciate his name being associated with it, but facts are facts.  If the agreement had been drafted properly, Synagro's plant on the proposed site would not even be a possibility, and Plainfield's residents would not be fighting for the right to use their own property as the agreement calls for - in a timely manner, not several decades from now.

Pen Argyl council members may want to reconsider this arrangement.  Johnston should paying Pen Argyl - one can imagine however she is collecting a consultant's fee.  Sweet.  Johnston may be out having lunch with the opposing parties, and there is no code of conduct that regulates such a consultant's disclosures.  Hey guys, I'll buy today.  WTF.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Waste Management continues to bully Plainfield Township into granting approval for Synagro crap bakery while Green Knight Energy Center operates in violation of approved development plan

At tonight's Plainfield Township Planning Commission review of Waste Management's land development application, the latest in a 1-1/2 year long string of bids to locate a crap bakery in the township, the Applicant's attorney Elizabeth Witmer will be in an interesting position.  Witmer is a land use specialist, and at the November 2017 review of Synagro's site plan she stated emphatically that the Applicant intended to file a Land Development application that would comply with the township ordinance and "not require any variances".  The township Zoning Office determined that at least four variances are needed, including a use variance because this use must be located along an arterial or major collector road.

In a post earlier this date, it was reported that Waste Management and Robert Cornman Jr (Green Knight representative and former Plainfield Township planning commission member and chairman) knew full well in November 2016 that a biosolids use was provided for in the SW solid waste district and not permitted in the CI commercial industrial district, due to a highly publicized failure in 1999 to obtain a variance to locate its own energy center in the same location, yet they still pursued leasing this location to Synagro.  That's called bad faith - were they hoping the township "wouldn't notice"?  (Suggested answer: YES)

A few members of the planning commission quizzed Witmer on this point, because no Applicant files a land development plan unless all zoning issues have been resolved.  Witmer stressed that no variances will be required.  In short, it is a waste of time and resources to review how a development will satisfy storm water management when (for example) there is no way to get vehicles on and off the site.  This is exactly the situation at hand.  The Land Development Plan does not comply with the ordinance as Witmer pledged.

Purpose of tonight's review meeting - does anyone know?
In previous letters and oration at reviews of this proposal, Synagro's legal beagle Matthew Goodrich has stated that in no uncertain terms Synagro expected a zoning permit, deserved a zoning permit, and that the township has to issue a zoning permit.  This despite the township reminding him on multiple occasions that Synagro ain't getting no permit until requirements are met - which includes variances and regulatory approval.
One might fairly ask what the purpose of tonight's meeting is, since as of 11am today no Zoning Hearing Board application for variances associated with this plan have been received by Plainfield Township. Use variances are granted in about 10% of cases, so if road access is not resolved, this project is not happening.  Synagro and Waste Management will want to talk about how they recently filed for DEP and NPDES permit, but who the hell GAFF when they can't drive to and from the site?

In the narrative accompanying Synagro's October 2017 site plan submission, Synagro stated that approvals were granted the Green Knight Energy Center in 1999 and a 2001 revision, and Witmer emphasized during the November review that Synagro intends to rely on those approvals.  The only problem with this plan is her statement is incorrect - there is no approved 2001 revision.
False statement that the 1999 Green Knight Energy Center land development plan was amended in 2001 - the 2001 plan's conditional requirements were never met by Green Knight Energy Center and a conditional approval expired in 2002. 

The narrative in the February 2018 Land Development plan submission curiously deletes the reference to the 2001 revision:
Waste Management's Feb 2018 narrative no longer boasts about as lengthy a list of approvals, or mentions the driveway (wonder why...)

Contents of the recorded 1999 plan and its 2001 defunct proposed revision
The 1999 approved and recorded Energy Center plan states that access to the site will be via Pen Argyl Road, a major collector. Since access was to the east along Pen Argyl Road, the front yard was chosen there.  This is important, since it allowed a lesser side yard setback along the township trail, and did not force the proposed access drive into the existing quarry.  Note 12 specifically states that access will be via Pen Argyl Road, yet when the Energy Center was built, access was created across Plainfield Township's trail onto GCSL's private haul road - in violation of the recorded plan.  Note that in reality, the 1999 plan depicts an access drive that actually "tees" at the private haul road and does not extend across it to Pen Argyl Road.  How the hell did Mr. Robert Cornman Jr's planning commission ever even approve this plan?  Note 4 indicates that a PENNDOT highway occupancy permit is required for access to Pen Argyl Road - was this ever obtained, was it denied due to limited site distance, etc and is this why "as-built" was different?

1999 Recorded and official Land Development Plan for Green Knight Energy Center

Green Knight came back to the township in 2000 and proposed a revised plan, with access now to be "as built".  Plainfield Township was concerned that now it was proposed to use the Township Trail, and the Township Solicitor recommended the trail easement agreement be modified with this use in mind, in addition to other conditions for approval.  None other than Robert Cornman Jr, in his role as Green Knight representative, signed off on April 11, 2001 on an agreed list of conditions which must be met within one year in order for this revised plan to be approved (at bottom of this post).  This never occurred - whoopsie - breakdown of communication with himself?  In the proposed revision, note that now the Access Drive in the 1999 plan is now labelled "Alternate Access Drive", the text in 1999's Note 12 is retained, and in Note 11 we see that the "approved" access location will be retained "if the trail agreement expires".  In such an event, the access drive to Pen Argyl Road that was approved in 1999 would be built.
Proposed & defunct 2001 revision of Land Development Plan for Green Knight Energy Center

Synagro, Waste Management and Green Knight are all up Shit Creek without a paddle.
  • Green Knight Energy Center is operating in violation of its approved Land Development Plan - a legally binding document
  • The 2001 revision is scrap since it was never signed, expired and was never recorded.
  • Green Knight Energy Center traffic is travelling across Plainfield Township land, not provided for and in violation of the 1997 trial easement agreement
  • Note 11 of the proposed revised plan acknowledges that the trail agreement may expire (eg when the landfill closes) and at said time access via Pen Argyl Road would be uses to access the Energy Center.  This would cover, for example, the 2 to 3 year period during which the last gas from the landfill is converted to electricity.
This evening's meeting should be a real hoot.  It will be interesting to see if Ms. Witmer takes the same position she did in November - everything is fine, our plan is in compliance, Waste Management and Synagro are here for recommended approval tonight - anything less is unacceptable.  Whatever... you're being paid handsomely, say whatever floats your boat.

Conditional approval for 2001 LD plan signed by Robert Cornman, Jr on behalf of Green Knight

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Plainfield Township ex-planner has history of ignoring zoning ordinance to grease skids for Waste Management/Green Knight Economic Development Corporation

On Wednesday April 4, 2018 at 7pm the Plainfield Township Planning Commission will meet to review the Land Development Plan to locate a Synagro biosolids crap bakery on land owned by Waste Management.  In the room, as he has been for every meeting thus far, will be Green Knight vice chairman and Synagro crap bakery project representative Robert Cornman Jr, who is also an ex-Planning Commission member and  its long time chairman.

When Synagro first slithered silently into Plainfield Township in November 2016 with its proposal, Cornman was still a Planning Commission member.  Despite stating he was recusing himself, he participated in discussion and suggested multiple times at the November 2016 review of Synagro's proposal that it be given conditional approval that evening to locate on a parcel in the Commercial Industrial (CI) zoning district.  It was subsequently discovered that Synagro's use was not even a permitted in the location proposed, and therefore it would require a use variance.  Without any hardship, it would be impossible to obtain a use variance.
November 2016 Synagro Site Plan, with proposed plant location in gray area
north of haul road in CI zoning district (North is to right side of screen)
Planner Robert Cornman Jr suggested this site plan be granted conditional approval

Planning Commissions are responsible per the Municipalities Planning Code for maintaining and updating a municipality's zoning ordinance.  As the long time commission chairman, Mr. Cornman was uniquely positioned out of all township citizens as the single best authority on the township's zoning ordinance.  As it turns out, since July 1, 1988  Synagro's use was permitted in the Solid Waste District.  One should ask, is it possible that Mr. Cornman did not know this, and actually encouraged approving this use to be located in a district where it is not permitted.

Let's pause briefly to note that in 1988 an extensive Solid Waste addendum to the township's comprehensive plan was adopted, to plan for responsible and strategically located solid waste uses.  Immediately, Zoning Ordinance amendment 192 was adopted, which provided for six (6) uses by right in the Solid Waste district, including a material separation facility (Synagro's use) and a landfill gas to energy plant (Green Knight Energy Center).  This list of uses has not changed nor where they are permitted since 1988.

As it turns out, both Mr. Cornman and Waste Management were very much aware in November 2016 that a use related to Solid Waste could not be located on the site in question, because 17 years earlier Mr. Cornman, while he was Planning Commission Chairman, attempted unsuccessfully to shepherd on behalf of Waste Management another Solid Waste use into the same precise location!

In 1999, Waste Management applied for a use variance to locate the Green Knight landfill gas to energy plant in the CI zoning district.  Here is a site plan that was submitted with the application:
1999 proposed location of Green Knight Energy Center, in CI zoning district in exact same location as 2016 proposed Synagro plant - same shit different year.  Planning Commission chairman Robert Cornman Jr testified at the ZHB hearing on the alleged economic benefit while ignoring the fact the was no hardship to justify a variance - which was his responsibility to know.

Planning Commission under Chairman Robert Cornman Jr recommends Waste Management be granted a use variance, despite there being no hardship

Several objectors testified at the zoning board hearing for the variance.  Pen Argyl was represented by attorney John Molnar, who showed that the proposal was counter to the 1988 comprehensive plan, as well as the zoning ordinance, and that extensive cost and effort had recently been put into updating both documents to accommodate Solid Waste uses.  Yet Robert Cornman Jr totally ignored both the spirit and letter of the zoning ordinance that as a planning commission member and chairman he was obligated to uphold for all land owners of the township.

Planning Commission chairman Robert Cornman Jr puts the good word in for
Waste Management - recommending approval to place the energy center outside the Solid Waste district, in total disregard of the Ordinance and a clear conflict of interest.
Ever hear of a designated hitter batting for both teams?

The Zoning Hearing Board did the right thing - they went through the five criteria for a variance, and found that Waste Management had no hardship whatsoever.  "Benefit to the community" is not a hardship.

Zoning Hearing Board facts and findings in case of Waste Managment's attempt to violate Plainfield Township's zoning ordinance - with Robert Corman Jr's blessing.  The ZHB was not swayed.

The township supervisors did the right thing by kicking Mr. Robert Cornman Jr to the curb, and he should never be reappointed to the planning commission.  Ethics requires a municipal official to put aside their own desires and outside special interests, and promote uniform and unbiased adherence to local laws and regulations.  There is a rumor that he submitted a letter of interest to be appointed back onto the commission in Jan 2018 - the size of those balls are impressive indeed.

Footnote: the five criteria enumerated above in the Facts Findings of the 1999 variance are the same criteria which would have to be met by Waste Management/Synagro in order to be granted the variances that are needed for the Synagro plant to be approved.