Development proposals heard by panel

Nearby residents want to see changes at recycling facility

By Gloria Lloyd

The county Planning Commission recently conducted public hearings on a number of potential developments in south county.

Republic Services Inc. came before the Planning Commission to align its local permits with its state permits for its recycling facility at Bayless Avenue and Interstate 55.

The facility is regulated by the state as a waste-processing facility, but by the county as a recycling facility since 1989, when it initially gained a conditional-use permit from the Planning Commission.

Republic bought the facility in 2010, and the company wants to align its local and state permits by seeking a county conditional-use permit, or CUP, to operate a waste-processing facility.

The company will not change anything at its current site, but will expand the types of recycling it accepts to include residential.

Since recycling facilities are limited to an intake of 10-percent trash, the facility would rather be zoned as a waste-processing facility to ensure that it does not exceed the limits placed on it as a recycling facility, said Michelle Clark, the company’s engineering consultant.

As a waste-processing facility, the recycling plant will be under greater regulatory scrutiny from the county than it currently is as a recycling facility, Clark added.

“We’re not proposing any changes at the facility besides increasing our throughput in recyclables,” said Dave Asbinder of Republic. “We’ve invested millions of dollars in upgrades in those machines.”

However, some of the facility’s residential neighbors said they would like some changes.

John Marsala, who has lived across Gravois Creek from the facility for 22 years, said children play at the facility when it is closed, and the site has had two recent fires, including one this year. Facility owners promised neighbors it would close at 6 p.m., which got pushed over the years to 8 p.m. and now 10 p.m., he added.

“The place is an eyesore, trash everywhere. They’re not taking care of that. This thing (they’re saying) about them taking care of the place — I think it’s mishandled myself,” Marsala said. “The noise is unbearable — you can’t have barbecues on the weekends. At one time, they said they wouldn’t be open on weekends, but now they work Saturdays.

“Everybody in our neighborhood is really displeased with everything. It looks like a dump, is what it looks like. They haven’t maintained any of the trees there, and now they have concrete barricades all along the side. It’s just atrocious.”

Neighbor Jeff Deutschmann echoed Marsala’s concerns about the noise, saying that trucks regularly roll up to the facility and dump recycling at 3 a.m., so he cannot go to sleep with his windows open.

Jimmy Weatherford, the general manager of the facility, said that trucks will dump their recycling at odd hours so that they can avoid morning rush-hour traffic when they pick up recycling from commercial facilities.

But Planning Commission member Bill Sneed told Weatherford, “You can manage that. If your company will not accept it except during your hours of operation, these neighbors won’t have to listen to the unloading at 3 in the morning.”

Commission Chairman Wayne Hilzinger asked if the facility’s current permit governed its hours of operation.

County land-use manager Gail Choate said it does not, but the planning panel can make a CUP conditional on hours of operation.

In a nonbinding show of hands, three audience members were in favor of rezoning, and four said they were opposed or with concerns.

The Department of Planning requested a change in zoning for a 9.35-acre tract in the Peregrine Estates subdivision on the south side of Telegraph Road, roughly 1,000 feet west of Becker Road, at the terminus of Nettie Drive.

The department requests a change in zoning from an R-2 15,000-square-foot Residence District to NU Non-Urban District for the tract.

The site in question was zoned as a subdivision in 2005, but the development was never built. When that happens, the Planning Commission typically reverts the zoning back to what it was before the original zoning request.

However, the property’s new owner, developer Fred Reinhold, bought the property with the understanding that it was zoned R-2 and would like to keep the existing zoning.

Reinhold’s plans call for a subdivision half the size of the previously approved one, 10 lots on 9.38 acres. The previous subdivision was approved for 20 lots, noted Reinhold’s representative, engineer Clay Vance.

Reinhold recently bought the property as a foreclosure from a bank that had been trying to sell it for six years and was under the impression it was zoned R-2, said Gino Pucci, the listing real estate broker for the sale.

In a nonbinding show of hands, seven members of the audience opposed changing the zoning, with none in favor.

Sack Brothers is seeking a shopping district on a 1.22-acre lot at the northwest corner of Lemay Ferry Road and Southcrest Way and requesting a change in zoning from NU Non-Urban District to a C-8 Planned Commercial District.

Representing Sack Brothers, attorney John King said the property owners are hoping that a store along the lines of Dollar General will go in at the site, with projected hours of operation of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

In its plan, the company depicted an 8,500-square-foot building, with a single entrance off Lemay Ferry.

“This proposal fits the existing use and the character of the Lemay Ferry corridor,” King said.

The lot is surrounded by an industrial area, a junior college, an auto repair business, a convenience store and a shopping center, King said. The nearest house is 360 feet from the proposed site. No one spoke in opposition to the plan.

In another matter scheduled for a public hearing that same night, Richard P. Proctor, trustee, originally requested a change in zoning from a C-8 Planned Commercial District to a C-2 Shopping District for a 1.48-acre lot on the southeast side of Lemay Ferry Road, on the west side of Ringer Road, roughly 40 feet north of Camelot Estates Drive.

The plan was withdrawn prior to the public hearing, however.