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

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