Neighbors, Workers Clash On Trash
Looking out from her house on Fairmont Avenue, Crystal Ayala warned of the noxious smells, scurrying rodents, and declining property values that could result if the city allowed an annex waste disposal station to pick up wet trash from the suburbs.
Lauryn Kearney looked into the same factory from her office – and described it as “one of the cleanest facilities” in town, a dedicated local employer, and an asset that deserves expansion.
These two New Haveners made those differing statements on Wednesday night during the Marathon City Plan Commission’s final public hearing about the proposed operational expansion of Murphy Road Recycling at 19 Wheeler St.
The four and a half hour virtual meeting took place online via the Zoom video conferencing platform.
The subject of the debate on Wednesday evening was Murphy’s site map, coastal town plan and special permit applications so that the current waste transfer station on the Quinnipiac River can accept up to 500 tons of so-called “digestible” municipal solid waste (MSW) – also known as “wet” household waste – from surrounding areas Cities.
As at last month’s commission meeting, proponents of enlargement hailed the local waste disposal facility as an economic boon to the city, while critics labeled it a bad neighbor and a threat to the environment.
Unlike at that hearing, these arguments were not made by lawyers and specially hired engineers and consultants on both sides, but by members of the public – and some city officials – who weighed up their own passionate attitudes.
The vast majority of written and oral public statements on Wednesday evening were against enlargement.
“We have an ongoing health and environmental problem in this neighborhood right now,” said Chris Ozyck, a Fair Haven Heights resident, one of half a dozen local “interveners” protesting Murphy’s expansion plans. Allowing wet garbage in addition to the current processing of construction rubble, dry garbage and recyclables through 19 Wheeler St. will only exacerbate odors, truck traffic, asthma and rodent infestations near homes.
Intervener and representative of the Quinnipiac River Fund, Nancy Alderman, agreed.
“This particular spot on the Quinnipiac River overlooking New Haven could be a nice spot if used well,” she said. “It hardly makes sense to put seven cities worth of rubbish on it and spray the pile with a fragrant mist. It is time to stop destroying our waterfront promenades. “
In a video Ozyck taped after knocking on the doors in the annex, Ayala, who owns an adjacent house on Fairmont Avenue, urged the commissioners to reject Murphy’s motion.
“No, I don’t want that behind my house,” she said. “No, I don’t want my children to suffer more harm that is beyond my control from pollution. And no, I don’t want to lose any value for my house because a property behind my house is dirty. “
A handful of New Haven residents who work at Murphy Road Recycling and All American Waste, the garbage trucking company that shares the same 15-acre property with the solid waste facility, took on the cloak of defending the business and promoting expansion .
The solid waste facility has tried for years to expand operations on what is currently 15 acres adjacent to the Quinnipiac River. Every step of the way has been vocalized by neighbors, local environmentalists and city-elected officials.
This included Kearney, a dispatcher for All American Waste. She said she has lived in the city since 1997, graduated from Hillhouse High School, and started working for the garbage disposal company in 2007.
“I come here every day. I work here every day. I don’t smell anything, ”she said. “When people say that we are not clean, that we are not clean, it is just amazing to me. This company honors its employees. They stay with their employees. And the expansion will only open up more opportunities for local employees.
Commissioners unanimously voted to continue the public hearing to accept more public statements later this month and to hear a formal rebuttal from Murphy Road Recycling attorney on Jan. 20.
Click here, here, here and here to read previous stories about Wheeler Street Transfer Station.
Critic: Beware of bad smells, poorer traffic, more rats
Most of Wednesday night’s hearings included presentations from local critics – including Wooster Square Alder Ellen Cupo, who represents the section of the appendix that contains the waste transportation plan; and Steve Fontana, deputy for economic development of the city – warning of the environmental damage caused by enlargement and calling on the commission to reject the applications.
“Every aspect of this application violates both the spirit and the letter of the New Haven Zoning Regulations and the fundamental principles of environmental justice that are enshrined directly in the Commission’s regulations,” said Roger Reynolds, one of Save the Sound’s attorneys the interveners in the case.
“To allow this to happen would be an enormous abuse of power and would be viewed very badly by both the community and the courts.”
Reynolds pointed out that the waste disposal station is currently operating at around 40 to 50 percent of its allowable capacity, according to the presentation by Murphy Road Recycling’s managers and lawyers. Even if the allowable amount of wet garbage would technically not increase the total allowable tonnage that the facility can handle each day, the de facto increase is the amount of incoming garbage and the number of trucks that come to the construction site every day actual business is boosted at the annex location.
“This commission needs to look at the real world and the real impact on the neighborhood,” he said.
Reynolds referred to Section 46 (h) (1) of the City’s Code of Regulations, which states, “It is the city’s policy that the burden of meeting its solid waste facility needs should not be disproportionately heavy for any municipality.”
He said the expansion would increase traffic on the site, further deteriorate the neighborhood’s air quality, exacerbate odor and rodent problems, endanger the river with new contaminated drains, and negatively impact nearby property values. “Protect your residents and don’t let this obviously illegal and violent use take place in this already congested neighborhood.”
Local attorney Marjorie Shansky, another intervener, agreed. “I think it is safe to say that there may never have been an application that this commission is less likely to approve than the one that is pending with you tonight,” she said. “The health and safety of the citizens and the Quinnipiac River and ultimately Long Island Sound trump the applicant’s economic interests.”
Neighbors and other city dwellers spoke out against the potentially harmful effects of expanding the current facility.
“My daughter is 9 months old,” said Robert Farrow of Fulton Street (pictured above). “I don’t want my daughter around an odor that can be poisonous and harmful.” He added that his mother had multiple brain and heart surgeries and also has asthma.
“This problem could cause rats and rodents,” he said of the proposed wet garbage intake. “These things can transmit diseases that I don’t want in my household.”
Laura Cahn, chair of the city’s environmental advisory council, said that “the transfer station on Wheeler Street already smells of garbage”. Adding wet trash to the current mix will only make these smells worse. “Trash and chemical deodorizers both have a negative impact on the environment,” she said, contrary to Murphy’s plans.
Terry Saunders of Fairmont Avenue said she lived 200 feet from the current facility. She said she heard heavy equipment and machinery running at 2:30 am and that the current “noise and light pollution is just terrible down here.” She said the wind is blowing in the direction of the water and “has a very pungent odor. I have grandchildren I don’t want to play in the backyard, ”she said because of the smell.
“This neighborhood is the most polluted area in the city,” added Cupo. “My residents shouldn’t be further burdened if they set up a garbage disposal station in their backyards.”
Nearly half a dozen of the current employees weighed in with passionate support for their employer’s plan.
“I’ve worked at this company for a long time and during that time I haven’t seen anything that is incorrect,” said All American Waste mechanic Jose Calle (pictured), who lives in Fair Haven and whose testimony is translated from Spanish into became English by an interpreter hired in town.
“This company has always been concerned about its employees. And I believe that all other employees that we are all very satisfied. We are there because of their efforts and the way we are treated. It is very good.”
Fair Haven roommate and All American Waste driver Zack Hyman agreed. “I am in favor of enlargement because it creates jobs,” he said.
Hyman said he worked for the company for five years. “You treat me great,” he said. “And I’ve never seen a mess when it comes to garbage on the floor.”
Frank Warrecke, a Westville resident and All American Waste driver, described the work environment at 19 Wheeler Street as “like family.”
“We’re doing our job for the city of New Haven,” he said. “We do our job for our customers. We do our job for All American Waste. I think the expansion will only improve business in the region. It will only expand employment opportunities. “
As the hearing neared their limit at 10 p.m., Commission Chairman Ed Mattison noted that the ongoing debate about the transfer station on Wheeler Street continued.
“It feels like a chapter in a book,” he said of the hour-long public hearing on Wednesday night. This book is set to resume later this month and January as the commissioners continue to receive public statements and then hear Murphy Road Recycling’s final argument before making a final decision on the applications.