EastBayRI.com: New law could limit Pond View to 150 tons per day

7/7/2011, Richard Morse-

EAST PROVIDENCE - Legislation that could limit construction and demolition debris processing facilities located near residential areas from processing more than 150 tons per day was signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee last Friday, July 1, two days after the matter was approved in the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives.

The legislation states any “C and D” processing facility within 1,000 feet of a residential area shall not be allowed to accept and or process in excess of 150 tons per day “where the owner or owners of the greater part of the land within a one thousand foot (1,000’) radius of the property boundary lines of the facility files an objection to the granting of a license permitting the acceptance and/or processing in excess of one hundred fifty (150) tons per day of construction and demolition debris.”

The legislation also stipulates that any C and D facility must receive a letter compliance from its host municipality that all applicable zoning requirements and local ordinances have been met. In the event this letter of compliance isn’t issued, the host municipality must issue a letter of non-compliance detailing the particular requirements that have not been met.

In Rumford, the legislation marks the latest turn of events in an ongoing saga centered on TLA Pond View and its residential neighbors. For years, a number of those who live near the site have claimed the facility has created dust, noise and odor problems in their neighborhood. Company officials have responded that no evidence has ever come forward to corroborate these claims.

In May, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management approved the company’s request to expand from a processing capacity of 500 tons per day to 1,500 tons per day. About a month later, the city’s zoning officer issued a cease and desist order against TLA Pond View stating the company shouldn’t be processing more than 150 tons per day as stipulated in its initial 1998 variance.

On Smith Hill, the legislation received plenty of support from the city’s state delegation. State Reps. Helio Melo, Christopher Blazejewski, Roberto DaSilva, John Savage and Mary Duffy-Messier were all listed as sponsors on the bill. State Rep. Joy Hearn, whose district includes part of Riverside, also supported the bill. In the Senate, Sen. Daniel DaPonte and Sen. Frank DeVall were among the legislation’s sponsors.

As a whole, the Senate passed the measure with 35 votes in the affirmative. Three members didn’t vote and no votes were cast in opposition. In the House, the matter was approved with 53 in the affirmative, 15 in opposition and seven not voting.

City councilman William Conley Jr. has been a vocal critic of TLA Pond View’s expansion efforts since taking office in December. He said those residents who fall within the 1,000 foot radius will now have to file their formal objections to the facility’s operations. He said these residents should file any objections with both the city and RIDEM.

TLA VP calls it a “bad law”

In a written statement, TLA Pond View Vice President Jack Walsh described the legislation as “bad law” and said its “an example of how in Rhode Island it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”

“If you know the right people and make a big enough fuss, then fact, law, reasoned thought and even the constitution can all take a back seat to your objectives. It will have to be up to the Court House, once again, to [ensure] that justice is done where law and reason have sided with Pondview in all the eight previous actions filed against the Company,” Mr. Walsh wrote. He continued that TLA Pond View isn’t a “bad company” and that at its operational capacity of 500 tons per day it employed more than 50 people, spending $1.2 million annually on payroll and $1.4 million annually on goods and services in East Providence, figures that would increase at a 1,500 tons per day capacity.

“Pond View is a good company, doing good work and serving an important public function by significantly reducing the amount of solid waste headed to the Central Landfill in Johnston and other disposal facilities,” wrote Mr. Walsh.

“The legislation, however, is ‘bad law.’ Not only is it obviously bad for all who recycle, it is bad for East Providence, it is bad for Rhode Island, its business climate and, believe it or not, the environment.”