Legislation would extend moratorium on transfer stations

By Alyson E. Raletz

Legislation to extend the county’s six-month freeze on trash-transfer station and waste-processing facility licenses an additional six months was introduced during a County Council meeting last week.

If adopted, the moratorium, which became effective Oct. 2, would last a year.

John Campisi, R-south county, who introduced the original ordinance that temporarily restricts the Department of Health from issuing such licenses in any of the unincorporated areas of St. Louis County, also pushed passage of the legislation last fall for a study to be conducted that could help determine possible locations of such facilities. The 6th District, which Campisi represents, is comprised of more unincorporated areas than any of the six other districts that make up St. Louis County.

The consulting firm hired to conduct the waste-management study, R.W. Beck of Cincinnati, Ohio, was not selected through a request for proposals process until three months into the moratorium and additional time will be needed to complete the study, Chairman Skip Mange, R-Town and Country, told the Call.

“We were just very recently hired and now are fully beginning the project with our very first element — we are going to hold numerous amounts of public meetings in each district with various

stakeholders and members of the public to obtain as much information as possible,” Karen Luken, senior director of R.W. Beck, told the Call.

The county has not awarded a final contract to R.W. Beck, according to the health department, but one is expected to be negotiated by the end of this week for less than $250,000 — the amount originally estimated.

Firm representatives currently are determining those meeting times and dates. In the past six years, R.W. Beck has conducted between 20 to 30 similar studies, according to Luken.

She estimated it would take R.W. Beck six to nine months to complete the waste-management study.

Beyond public input, she said the firm will evaluate the county’s disposal capacity, the capacity of various facilities, the type of collection programs various communities currently employ and other waste-related factors in unincorporated St. Louis County.

“We want to see what waste issues are facing the county, identify some alternatives, narrow them down and come up with some specific alternatives for the county to consider,” she said.

She added, “We just felt in St. Louis County we would be successful and it would be more important if we understand what the people’s concerns were instead of just understanding what our concerns were.”

Mange is the official author of the proposed legislation, but Campisi told the Call that all councilmen support the bill.

“It’s going to take some time for engineers and people involved to get the information we need to find out if we even need more transfer stations in the area and this will give us some time to look at all the data …,” Campisi said.

Campisi contends that a total of 12 months that would prohibit any entity from attempting to develop a trash-transfer station or waste-processing facility is an appropriate amount of time for both potential developers and the county.

“It’s not unfair,” Campisi said in regard to developers who, without the moratorium, would be applying for licenses to operate such facilities.

“We already have 13 (trash-transfer stations) in south county. They certainly are servicing us right now. Most are running under capacity. I just don’t see a need for any more transfer stations at the moment,” Campisi added.

The current moratorium, with or without the proposed six-month extension, allows the Department of Health to continue to review and evaluate applications that were submitted before the enactment of the moratorium.

The department currently is processing an application by a Fred Weber Inc. subsidiary, F.W. Disposal South, for a location at 4200 Baumgartner Road that was submitted on the afternoon of Oct. 1 — one day before the moratorium took effect.

The Department of Health conducted a hearing on the application in December, but members of the public will have another chance next week to voice their opinions.

The St. Louis County Planning Commission will conduct a hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, March 1, in the County Council Chambers located in the Administration Building, 41 S. Central Ave.

Fred Weber is seeking to rezone a 24.9-acre tract about 300 feet southeast of Baumgartner Road, east of the Burlington Railroad and adjacent to the Meramec River to the southwest.

The company is seeking a zoning change to a Flood-Plain Planned Industrial District from a Flood-Plain Non-Urban District.

In a related matter, community activist Tom Diehl of Oakville last Tuesday supplied county councilmen with documents titled “Suspected Zoning Violations at the Fred Weber South Quarry,” which accused Fred Weber of more than 40 violations on its quarry property.

Michael Bram and Dan DoPuch, both Oakville residents, addressed councilmen on the same matter, contending that the Department of Planning and the Department of Public Works had not issued citations on the alleged violations and the two questioned the delay.

Fred Weber’s south quarry “requires a flood-plain study,” there has been “no approved operational plan since 1970,” “no bonds (have been) posted for reclamation,” and there is “no approval (of a ) final restoration plan,” according to the “suspected violations” submitted by Diehl.

“I think the list can go on and on and on,” Bram said of the alleged violations. “But I want you to be aware that the planning department for seven weeks has been in contact with Fred Weber, saying, ‘You have these problems,’ and they have not issued a citation … Do you think they’d do that for anybody else?”

John Watson of the public works department was contacted by the Call to discuss the “suspected violations” and to confirm any pending investigation into Fred Weber Inc., but he was unavailable for comment before the Call’s press time.

County Executive Charlie Dooley and Mange told the residents the county would look into the matter.

“Fred Weber really has been getting a free ride as far as violations go,” Campisi told the Call, noting none of the department heads have informed him of any reported violations on Fred Weber’s quarry property.

“… It’s up to our departments to enforce that sort of the thing — to enforce the laws the council members ask them to enforce,” Campisi added.

Mange also noted during the Feb. 17 session that a Committee of the Whole meeting will be scheduled in the next three weeks to consider Fred Weber’s appeal of the health department’s denial of an application to establish a trash-transfer station at 5219 Baumgartner Road.

County Counselor Pat Redington had reviewed evidence submitted by Fred Weber during a November public appeal hearing and submitted her findings of fact, Mange said, of which councilmen will consider during an executive session. Members of the public may attend executive sessions, but have no opportunity to speak.