Public hearing set June 19 on proposed transfer station


Executive Editor

A public hearing on Fred Weber Inc.’s application to construct and operate a solid-waste transfer station in Oakville will be conducted next month by the St. Louis County Department of Health.

The public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Thurs-day, June 19, in the Oakville Senior High School gymnasium, 5557 Milburn Road.

Fred Weber Inc. has submitted applications to the St. Louis County Department of Health and to the Mis-souri Department of Natural Resources to operate the solid-waste transfer station on a 4.4-acre site comprised of three parcels at 664 Old Baumgartner Road, 5219 Baumgartner Road and 5211 Baumgartner Road.

The site is three-tenths of a mile east of Lemay Ferry Road and 1.3 miles east of Interstate 55.

As proposed, the transfer station would receive non-hazardous municipal waste, household waste, agricultural, governmental and industrial waste, and transfer the waste from collection trucks to larger carriers that would convey the waste to a landfill.

The company must obtain approval from both the county and the state to operate the solid-waste transfer station.

Fred Weber’s proposal comes six months after the company received overwhelming community opposition to a request to locate a solid-waste transfer station in Oakville, not far from the site of the current application. That proposal sought to locate a solid-waste transfer station on a 27.7-acre site on the south side of Baumgartner Road and the east side of the Burlington Northern Rail-road right of way. Fred Weber requested a zoning change to the M-3 Planned Indus-trial District and the FPM Flood-Plain Plan-ned Industrial District from the NU Non-Urban District and the FPNU Flood-Plain Non-Urban District.

A public hearing conducted on that request by the county Planning Commis-sion last November drew hundreds of residents who were opposed to the proposal.

But proponents of the previous proposal, including a consultant hired by Fred Weber, contended the facility would fill a need that nobody wants to discuss. That consultant, Derrick Standley of the Gen-esis Group, also is representing Fred Weber in its latest proposal.

The commission did not take any action on the rezoning request after an attorney representing the company asked the panel to postpone a decision indefinitely.

Unlike its last proposal, however, Fred Weber’s current proposal does not require a zoning change because the M-1 zoning classification of the Baumgartner Road allows such a facility.

County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, did not support Weber’s previous proposal and opposes the company’s latest application.

In April, Campisi said he met with representatives of Fred Weber Inc. — Tom Dunne Sr., company chairman and chief executive officer, and Tom Dunne Jr., vice president of waste management — to discuss their proposal. Also present was Standley of the Genesis Group.

“Basically, it was the same thing they showed at the first meeting of the Planning Commission. It was nothing different, just a different site,” Campisi said. “I think that the set of plans that they had and the building was well built. I think the whole thing looked pretty nice. But ultimately, it just comes down to the people in that area. When I took office, I vowed not to vote the way I want to vote and it’s not up to me, it’s up to the people around the area.”

Campisi said he sent e-mails to more than 800 residents of the area. The e-mail included the waste transfer code, a notice of the public hearing and Fred Weber’s application for the transfer station.

The councilman urged residents to attend the public hearing to voice their opposition to the proposal. “It’s pretty much up to the people in the area,” he said.

One resident who lives near the site of the proposed transfer station is Mark Mosher. Mosher, who lives on Mango Drive in the Lake of the Woods subdivision, told the Call he is concerned the transfer station will have a negative impact on property values in his neighborhood, citing increased truck traffic, odors and other problems resulting from the close proximity of such a facility.

Mosher said he and other residents who are opposed to the proposed transfer station are forming a group called Neighbors United for a Healthy Environment.

Campisi said he believes public opposition will be a factor in the Department of Health’s consideration of Fred Weber’s application. “They’re looking at the public opposition to it,” he said.

Although a solid-waste transfer station is a permitted use at the new site, Fred Weber’s proposal “still needs the approval of the health department,” Campisi said. “There’s a report that will come to me and I have to act on it within 15 days.”

The councilman said he is prepared for the possibility of a legal challenge as a result of his opposition to the proposed transfer station.

“If we face a legal challenge and if that’s what the people want, that’s what they expect, that’s what they’ll get. Let the courts decide,” Campisi said. “That’s the way I see it. If everybody doesn’t want it in that area and I go ahead and disapprove it and they take it to court, it’s only the right thing to do. I mean let the courts decide. That’s what everybody wanted, so I don’t see any problem with that really.”

Meanwhile, a Fred Weber official is questioning the county’s ability to be fair in regard to its waste-disposal operations in St. Louis County.

In two letters to County Council Chair-man Greg Quinn, R-west county, Fred Weber Chairman Thomas Dunne Sr. contends the county has given preferential treatment to a license application submitted by Peerless Environmental Recovery Inc. to operate a solid-waste transfer station in Valley Park, adjacent to a solid-waste trans-fer station operated by Fred Weber.

Dunne also alleges that actions taken by Sue Taylor, supervisor of the Waste Man-agement Section of the Department of Health, “have suggested bias on the part” of the department and Taylor.

Among Dunne’s allegations are fa-voritism, withholding documents, different standards and bias.

“We operate a sanitary landfill in St. Louis County and we have another transfer station application pending,” Dunne wrote. “We do not believe we will be treated fairly by DOH if Ms. Taylor has anything to do with the landfill, or any transfer station, whether permitted already or under consideration for a permit. What we once perceived as only isolated mistakes or incidences of unfairness now seems, unfortunately, to have become a persistent pattern of misconduct. We are entitled under the law to be treated fairly and we firmly believe it is indisputable that as long as any matter of ours is handled by Ms. Taylor, that the St. Louis County De-partment of Health will not provide us with fair treatment.”