DNR approves Fred Weber’s permit for Oakville trash-transfer station

Oakville citizens have opposed Weber’s proposal since 2003


The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recently approved Fred Weber Inc.’s application to construct a trash-transfer station on Baumgartner Road in Oakville.

A DNR news release states that Weber’s Oakville station “will be used to receive solid-waste material onto the tipping floor, load waste into open-top transfer trailers, cover and stage the filled trailers and ship the trailers to a landfill or material-recovery facility.”

DNR officials also have specified that Weber must modify its design plans for the station by separating its hot-load area from its unacceptable-waste area. Weber’s original plans called for both hot loads and unacceptable waste to be in the same spot.

The DNR approval comes five years after Weber first proposed constructing the facility in Oakville.

In 2003, Oakville residents overwhelmingly opposed construction of the trash-transfer station and the county Department of Health and the County Council rejected Weber’s proposal.

But last year, Weber gained two victories in favor of the station when County Counselor Pat Redington settled a lawsuit in October with Weber attorneys to allow the station’s construction.

Redington previously has said she believed she was acting in the county’s best interests to reach a settlement because Weber’s attorneys were requesting attorneys’ fees and civil-rights damages from the county that Redington quantified as “millions” of dollars.

Additionally, St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Ann Crancer ruled Oct. 19 that the trash-transfer station could be constructed at 5219 Baumgartner Road.

The proposed trash-transfer station was one of three such facilities that Fred Weber Inc. had been denied by the county, spurring legal challenges in 2004. In 2005, the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the county used faulty logic in denying Weber’s request for the Oakville trash-transfer station.

After Weber petitioned for the station, the County Council adopted an ordinance prohibiting trash-transfer stations within 1,000 feet of churches, residences, schools, child-care centers, nursery schools or nursing homes.

Weber’s site for the transfer station on Baumgartner Road is within 1,000 feet of Canaan Baptist Church.

But the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals ruled the ordinance invalid because the county did not have a public hearing or receive a recommendation from the Planning Commission before amending its zoning ordinances.

Oakville resident Tom Diehl, who was unsuccessfully sued by Weber for alleged defamation and libel because of his criticisms of the proposed trash-transfer station, said last week that he believes DNR officials made a mistake, adding that the County Council never has voted to approve construction of the station.

“I am disappointed, but not surprised by the decision,” Diehl said. “It has long been obvious to me that MoDNR has merely become a rubber-stamp agency that tries to curry favors with big businesses. When people who are supposed to be regulated by the agency sit on the commissions that set the policies, how can the average person in Missouri feel protected? If nothing else, the department should have returned Weber’s application until the judicial appeals are complete.

“For them to claim that the local authority (St. Louis County) has approved Weber’s application is a misrepresentation of the facts of the case,” Diehl added.

During an April hearing that was conducted as part of the DNR’s review process, more than 250 people heard testimony opposing Weber’s proposal.

Several expert witnesses and local elected officials testified to DNR representatives that the department should not accept Weber’s permit largely because of potential public-health hazards, the county’s lack of due process in allowing the facility’s construction and because property values near the proposed station would likely drop.

No representatives from Fred Weber Inc. attended the April 10 hearing.

Sixth District County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, reiterated that he has opposed the station since it was proposed in 2003 and urged DNR officials to deny the permit like the County Council previously did.

Daniel McKeel, a retired professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, testified that the trash-transfer station would pose a serious threat to public health and should be denied for that reason alone.

Additionally, Ken Warren, a professor of political science at St. Louis University, testified to DNR officials that because the county counselor undermined the County Council by making a “behind-the-scenes” settlement with Weber attorneys, the people were denied due process and the permit should be reconsidered by the County Council.

Campisi recently said that he is working with attorney Jerry Wamser to stop the County Council from issuing its permits for Weber to start operation at the trash-transfer station after it has been constructed.

“Since November 2004, I have fought to stop this transfer station from going forward,” Campisi said. “I was successful in convincing the entire council to vote ‘no’ on the legislation. The St. Louis County Health Department was also convinced the transfer station was a bad idea.

“It was only when the Health Department was asked to appear before me in a town-hall meeting that everyone found out that Pat Redington, our own county counselor, made a deal with Fred Weber to allow the trash-transfer station to go forward without informing the councilmembers. This is a classic example of a deal made behind closed doors and not bringing any of the councilmembers up to date on any of the court proceedings even after the court rendered its decision.

“To stop Pat Redington, our county counselor, I have filed my opinion in court stating that the entire council was unanimous in their decision as well as the St. Louis County Health Department to deny the permit allowing this development,” Campisi continued.

“I am currently working with Wamser and Associates to stop Pat Redington from allowing St. Louis County from issuing the permits needed to start operation of the trash-transfer station in south county. I continue to represent the south county constituents who have overwhelmingly indicated their opposition to this development.”

Questions regarding the processing facility or the department’s role in regulating solid waste processing facilities may be sent to the Department of Natural Resources’ Solid Waste Management Pro-gram, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102-0176 or by calling (573) 751-5401 or (800) 361-4827.