CLAREMONT — Neighbors of a proposed waste transfer facility on Industrial Boulevard expressed concerns about noise, dust and traffic at the June 10 planning board meeting. Many fear their property values will be depressed and the quality of life in the neighborhood will decline. The planning board is considering a site permit for the facility, which would be an expansion of American Recycling — the company that operates a scrap metal recycling plant across the road.
Approximately 25 people live in 12 condos in the Westwood Village complex on a hillside above the railroad tracks. A dozen homeowners live nearby on Maple Avenue. The waste transfer facility would be a site where trucks would offload construction and demolition debris. The C&D debris would be loaded onto railcars and shipped to Ohio.
Francesco Finocchario of American Recycling told the gathering the permit approval process through the state Department of Environmental Standards is rigorous. “The state is going to be very demanding in what they ask us. It’s a 30-40 page application (for DES approval).”
However, City Planner Scott Osgood said the city has its own track to follow. “We can’t just go blindly along with whatever DES approves.”
Due to the high number of people attending the meeting to make comments, the planning board limited comments to three minutes.
Jim Contois objected to the three-minute limit as he began his comments. “I’m asking for a continuance,” said Contois. “A C&D facility will harm our community.”
Contois said C&D debris is contaminated with mercury, asbestos and lead and toxic dust would waft from the site. However, this point was disputed by Finocchario who said those contaminants are tested for when homes are demolished.
Dave Scheibel said if someone sends them material with those contaminants in it, “We’re going to take legal action against them.”
Planning Board Chair Richard Wahrlich said when a house is being demolished by his construction company, “If there is some kind of contaminant there has to be some kind of abatement process.”
“Our guys will be abatement certified,” said Scheibel. He said such contamination is stopped upstream from coming to the facility.
Janis and John Lambert own the bike shop near the train station. “I’ve heard it’s unheard of to do an open slab for this kind of facility,” said Janis. “What about water runoff? They’ve said they’re going to hose down the debris when it comes in, but what about during the winter? We don’t have to be the dumping ground for everybody else’s waste.”
“It’s not the right place for it,” said John Lambert. “We’re trying to welcome people to our community.”
Jerry Cross has lived on Maple Avenue for 40 years. He objected to the noise the facility would bring. “I’m not anti-business,” he said. “I’m concerned about the effect on real estate values. Claremont is overtaxed already; this would decimate values even further.”
Tom Luther read a statement from Walt Stapleton, local delegate and former railroad executive,who was unable to attend. Stapleton had gone on a site tour, however and had business experience with American Recycling. “He’s impressed with this company’s cleanup efforts. He’s favorably impressed with their industry track record and would like to see that railside get more action.”
Judith Koester, a resident of Westwood Village, said she would prefer the business have a closed building. “They said they’re hoping to keep the train traffic to three nights a week. Which means all 12 homes of 25 people (in the neighborhood) get to sleep four nights a week while everybody else in Claremont gets to sleep seven nights.”
Mike Cross, a resident of Maple Avenue, said, “I hear the planes, I hear the trains, I hear the helicopters. As far as noise goes, you get used to it. No problem there ... As far as business in Claremont, when these guys come in it creates jobs.”
Jeff Albright used to run the Claremont Concord Railroad. “What about all the businesses that provide jobs and pay taxes in this town? Don’t send a message Claremont is closed.
“The planning board allowed that neighborhood to be built down there, a couple hundred yards away from an industrial zone,” Albright continued. “The [previous] operations was just a mess from beginning to end. These people have spent so much money to slam the door in their face would be an insult.”
Two employees of American Recycling, Sloan Barcelou and Dylan Bladen, said it’s a safe place to work and the company is environmentally responsible. “DES takes health as its number one priority,” said Barcelou. “If they have questions they won’t allow that facility to be there.”
Bladen said he started working there three owners and seven years ago. “I’d like to tell you about these guys and the follow-through they do. The first two companies that I worked for left about 200 barrels of machine oil ... These guys one of the first things they did was take care of it, get them pumped and get them properly disposed of. Many people in this room should be able to remember what a mess that yard was.”
American Recycling has laid new roads and concrete pads throughout the facility at 38 Industrial Blvd., installed LED lighting, replaced propane heaters so the buildings will be warmer. “They’re trying to do the right thing and be straight with everything that’s done. Locals are going to be working there and as a part of that, we’re going to be keeping an eye on everything.”
At the end of the meeting the planning board decided to continue the discussion, as there are still too many unanswered questions. American Recycling is seeking a conditional approval from the city before applying for a permit from NHDES.
Discussion of the permit will continue at the July 15 planning board meeting.