CLAREMONT – The company that received its 2019 application for a building materials handling location at 43 Industrial Blvd. is now appealing a city planner’s decision refusing to accept construction and demolition material as recyclable.
The call from Massachusetts-based Acuity Management, which owns American Recycling on Industrial Boulevard, will be heard Monday at 7:00 p.m. in the community center by the Zoning Board of Adjustment to accommodate an expected larger audience.
DeForest Bearse, Claremont’s zoning administrator, rejected Acuity Management’s zoning application last November, which aimed to add construction and demolition waste for recycling. She reiterated that denial in June, prompting Acuity to appeal to the Zoning Board in July.
In her decision, Bearse said because it is a recycling facility, by definition it can only accept recyclable material, and allowing construction and demolition waste would turn it into a transfer station.
“Construction and demolition waste is not included in the list of materials considered ‘recyclable’ as defined in Env-Sw 104.19 (NH Administrative Code),” Bearse wrote.
Bearse told the Zoning Board in a memorandum that in 1987 the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services allowed the facility, then owned by Jim Silver, to recycle several products, including paper, aluminum and metal cans. She also noted that if C&D material were allowed as proposed, the material flow would increase from 75 to about 600 tons per day and would consist mainly of C&D material.
In a June 10 email to Bearse, Nobis Engineering’s Naomi-Clare Praul explained that the facility is proposing to “accept C&D material for recycling rather than simply taking it to a disposal facility.”
“Based on correspondence with NHDES, approval to accept C&D materials may be granted if the facility meets these criteria,” Praul wrote.
In her response three days later, Bearse reiterated her original reasons for denying the permit, including the definition of recyclable material, of which C&D is not listed and is instead defined as solid waste.
“Recycling plants don’t treat solid waste, but transfer stations do,” Bearse wrote. “By adding rubble to the material flow, this facility is transformed into a reloading station.”
Transfer stations are not allowed in the Industrial 1 Zoning District where the property is located, so a zoning board variance is required, Bearse wrote.
In its nine-page complaint, filed by attorneys at Concord’s Cleveland, Waters and Bass law firm, the company argued that Bearse erred because recyclable materials and C&D are not “mutually exclusive” since both separate items used on a landfill or an incinerator.
Attorneys Bryan Gould, Philip Hastings and Jeffrey Christensen wrote that the proposal “would not change the basic function of the applicant’s facility” because American Recycling already sorts incoming waste and separates non-recyclable materials or “waste” for shipment to a landfill must “redirect”.
“If American Recycling were merely collecting construction and demolition material to ship unprocessed to another location for disposal, then it would probably qualify as a transfer station. However, this is not the case. American Recycling will collect and process C&D material for recycling,” the attorneys wrote.
The company will not be converted into a reloading station, but “only expands the scope of the materials to be recycled”, the lawyer concludes, so it is within the scope of the existing permitted use and does not require any deviation.
In the spring of 2019, American Recycling submitted a proposal to the planning committee to construct a construction and demolition transfer station adjacent to a rail siding on the opposite side of Industrial Boulevard. The debris would be dumped onto a concrete slab and sorted for recyclables before being loaded onto railroad cars and shipped to a facility in Ohio that C&D can accept. It was estimated that 500 tons of material per day were delivered by up to 50 trucks.
There was strong opposition to the plan, particularly among residents of nearby Maple Avenue, who said noise, truck traffic and dust from the operation posed health risks and would affect property values.
In August 2019, the company, which had never provided a full site plan and wanted conditional board approval, withdrew its application at the urging of then-city planner Scott Osgood, rather than seeking another extension.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at [email protected]