from The Sun, October 2-8, 2009
By Aimee Henderson, Staff Writer
HOLYOKE – The City Council voted 13-1 at its last regular meeting to accept conditions for a special permit recommended by the Ordinance Committee for a solid waste transfer station located at 686 Main St. Councilor Diosdado Lopez cast dissenting vote and Councilor James Leahy was absent.
The transfer station in question, to be set up and run by United Waste Management, Inc.
(UWM), has been seeking a special permit to operate in the city for nearly one year. The facility will consolidate garbage coming in from around the city and region to be transferred into larger units in the form of either trucks or trains.
The building itself is estimated to be 22,575 square feet, according to the company website, and take in as much as 500 tons of garbage per day. The facility will have a life span of up to 25 years.
Ward 5 City Councilor John Brunelle reminded the council of the several meetings regarding the transfer facility about the different aspects, and told them that the project would go forward “with or without” the council’s vote for the special permit conditions.
“This is our opportunity to put conditions on the special permit,” he said. “This is an opportunity for the city to earn tax revenue, to create jobs and hopefully relieve the burden we have on trash removal.”
The Ordinance Committee hosted 11 meetings regarding the transfer station, which totaled nearly 40 hours of public discussion. Since the project was approved, there have already been 42 conditions set by the city’s Boardof Health that the facility is to adhere by for operation. The council’s vote on Sept. 21 added eight more conditions.
City Councilor At-Large Rebecca Lisi said it was important to include the additional eight conditions on the special permit to make sure residents are protected.
“I do believe we need to pass these special permit conditions for operation to make sure the living conditions for our residents are safe,” she said.
The additional conditions included: The conditions of the Board of Health Site Assignment Decision dated Feb. 26, 2009 are adopted and incorporated into the special permit and a copy of the decision shall be attached to the permit as exhibit A; The conditions set forth in the host community agreement dated May 13, 2009 are adopted and incorporated into the special permit and a copy of the agreement shall be attached to the permit as exhibit B; All signs at the property shall comply with the City of Holyoke zoning ordinance; The special permit is non-transferable; The 24-hour emergency contact phone number required under site assignment conditions #6 shall be answered by a person at all times and not have an answering machine; The notification required under site assignment condition #10 shall also be sent to the mayor and ward councilor; The correspondence required under site assignment condition #41 shall also be sent to the ward councilor; and The facility shall install a scanning device to screen incoming trucks for radioactive materials.
Environmental and health concerns are addressed in the conditions recommended by the Board of Health. Scott Lemay, an official with United Waste Management, insists that the facility will be a quarter mile from any residence and will itself be located close to an old incinerator and sewage treatment plant, and that the conditions proposed by the Board of Health would be sufficient in ensuring that the facility is run in a way that is clean and safe.
Lemay also said such a station would bring revenue to the city, create at least eight on sight jobs and provide work for others in the fields of maintenance and repairs, more infrastructure such as sewers, increase business to local restaurants and establishments, and offer a solution to the problem of trash disposal as dumps and landfills inch closer to reaching their full capacity.