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.