HOWELL – Six residents spoke out at a recent council meeting about the proposed waste transfer station that the county is proposing to build at the intersection of Randolph Road and County Road 547, most of them living in close proximity to where the facility would be built.
The solid waste transfer station would be engineered to accept 1,500 tons of waste per day of bulky clean-up debris and bulky construction debris, according to a notice published by the county. Improvements would need to be made to the intersection of Randolph Road and County Road 547, which include adding a traffic signal.
“The county role in this is that they update their solid waste plan,” said Deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro during the meeting.
A public hearing on the facility was supposed to be held back on July 27 at a Freeholders meeting, but the hearing was canceled. Monmouth County spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson had said it was because they had not received unifying agreement from Howell officials.
Mayor Theresa Berger had penned a letter to be read at that meeting opposing the waste transfer station, and Deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro and Councilman Robert Walsh said they were in attendance before the hearing was canceled, prepared to voice their opposition as well.
Although Mayor Berger and councilmembers made it clear at the recent council meeting that the facility lies in the hands of Monmouth County and the State Department of Environmental Protection, residents who spoke seemed more concerned with the lack of notice they were given.
Eve Ostrowicki lives on Alexander Avenue, a quarter mile away from where the station would be built.
“I’m here to proclaim my dissatisfaction with our elected officials because this is the first time I’m hearing about this station, which is in close proximity to where I live,” she said.
She pointed out pollution, noise, traffic in the area, and rumors she had heard about 300 trucks moving in and out of the facility.
Director of Community Development Jim Herrman said that there have been multiple meetings about the facility at the Solid Waste Advisory Council held at the Reclamation Facility in Tinton Falls over the past eight months, but that people aren’t really aware of what that council even is.
“People don’t really understand what the Solid Waste Advisory is and what they do,” he said. “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might not know what these are.”
Herrman also pointed out that the state is only required to send written notice of the proposed facility to people living within 200 feet, which is why Ostrowicki was not alerted.
Leon Pflaster, who owns all the property on Randolph Road, including Arnold Steel that employs over 50 people, was also not alerted.
“I am within 200 feet and I did not receive a notice. I have a tenant on my property who also lives within 200 feet, a separate address at 59 Randolph Road, and he did not receive any notice.”
Instead, he said he found out about the hearing for the solid waste facility two days before it happened.
The streets in the area, he said, are already constantly flooded with water after every rainfall and with dirt on dry days; with piles of mulch and dirt everywhere, as there’s no fences, barriers or proper drainage systems for the facility as it is, which is currently being used as a recycling center.
After doing some of his own calculations, Pflaster said his company transports about 800 loads of steel in and out of the facility all year. The solid waste transfer site, he said, would transport double that amount just in one week.
“We’re all for industrialization on our street, we have no problem with that, but it’s got to be the right kind of project, the right kind of industrialization,” he said.
Brandon Reo lives on Brook Road, between Oak Glen Road and Allenwood-Lakewood Road, what he called the “crosshairs” of all the traffic and trucks that come from Squankum Road over to East County Line Road, or down Arnold Boulevard and up Allenwood-Lakewood Road.
“The people impacted should have been notified,” he said.
Another resident who works at Middle School South said she lives a half mile away from the site, and that it’s her main transportation route to school every day. Right now it takes her 10 minutes to travel only four miles, and she can’t imagine what it will be like if the site is built, with all the added truck traffic.
Herrman pointed out that the transfer facility will be used to sort construction debris and is not a garbage dump.
“Everything has to be tipped inside the building,” he said, pointing out that it will be a high building, where everything is sorted inside into piles and put onto tractor trailers with loaders while still inside the building.
Mayor Berger asked officials to put the address of the Solid Waste Advisory Council on the township’s website so residents can write letters voicing their opposition, which has since been added to the site’s main page twp.howell.nj.us under “News.”
The address is Solid Waste Advisory Council, Monmouth County Reclamation Center, 6000 Asbury Avenue, Tinton Falls, NJ 07753, Attn: Stuart A. Newman, Solid Waste Coordinator.
Howell officials requested that any future meetings about the solid waste transfer station be held in Howell Township moving forward.