Petition to Deny the Proposed Waste Transfer Station by Resource Engineering, LLC
Marion Masnick, Clerk, Board of Chosen Freeholders
Teri O’Connor, County Administrator
Stuart Newman, Solid Waste Coordinator
Resource Engineering LLC Waste Transfer Facility Opposition
I am writing to express my concern about the application before the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders (“Freeholders”) for the proposed solid waste transfer station in the Township of Howell. Resource Engineering, LLC (“the applicant”) is proposing to design/build/operate a solid waste transfer station at 34 Randolph Road and is proposing to accept 1500 tons per day. I am submitting this letter to be included in the written comments on this proposed facility because I believe there has been potential government mismanagement.
First and foremost, the applicant’s application was incomplete. The County’s procedures require the applicant to submit an approved fire control plan, an emergency procedures plan, or a site plan signed and sealed by a licensed professional engineer or surveyor that shows the location of all station and portable equipment and detail of storm water runoff, amongst other deficiencies. These are requirements of the “Monmouth County Solid Waste Management Plan Procedure to Include a New Solid Waste Facility into the Plan.” Per the applicant’s submittal by InSite Engineering, LLC, dated February 27, 2017, they state, “Noise and discharges from the facility are under the jurisdiction of the NJDEP, and must comply with the applicable state and federal regulations.” And further, when asked 4 paragraphs of storm water questions, the applicant replied with “The storm water management design is under the jurisdiction of the NJDEP.” Noise, discharge, and explicitly per the application instructions storm water are all factors the SWAC and Freeholders should consider as part of their review and were not properly reviewed as part of this application.
Second, I am concerned with the applications lack of transparency and notice of opportunity for public to comment prior to SWAC voting on its recommendation to the Freeholders. Prior to the notice published on Thursday, January 18, 2018 in the Asbury Park Press, (and other than last year’s Freeholder meeting notices for a public hearing that never happened) there has been no public notification in the newspaper of this application to the residents of Howell or Monmouth County prior to the Solid Waste Advisory Council’s (“SWAC”) vote on its recommendation to the Freeholders. Furthermore, even if the public was able to determine the intended business of upcoming SWAC meetings, and review the agendas, which are typically published only on the day of the meeting, the May 18, 2017 SWAC meeting agenda at which the SWAC members voted on this application, under “Regular Business,” merely states “Discussion: Resource Engineering Solid Waste Management Plan Amendment.” This description is misleading at best and does not come close to notifying the public about SWAC taking action on the application at this meeting. As a result, the public was robbed of an opportunity to constructively participate in the decision making by SWAC prior to SWAC’s recommendation to the Freeholders.
Additionally, the “Monmouth County Solid Waste Management Plan Procedure to Include a New Solid Waste Facility into the Plan,” details a process of notifying agencies, scheduling a site tour and a public comment period will open for thirty (30) days. There is no evidence on the public record of a SWAC site visit and a public comment period for thirty days before the SWAC vote on May 18, 2017.
Third, per Howell Township council minutes and per discussion with the officials, the Mayor and Council members have said they were not aware of this application, and when they were on July 27, 2017, they wrote letters on July 27, 2017, July 28, 2017 and January 10, 2018 expressing their opposition to the proposed application.
Fourth, on July 27, 2017, the Freeholders decided to not proceed with the public hearing on this application and requested this application be “reconsidered” by the SWAC despite SWAC’s original recommendation on May 18, 2017. At the July 27, 2017 Freeholder’s meeting, Ms. O’Connor states, “At this time I’m recommending that the hearing be cancelled, and the matter be returned to the Solid Waste Advisory Council. Information was received today that renders this application incomplete. As such, it would not be appropriate at this time for the Freeholders to have a hearing and move forward.” This motion was approved unanimously by the Freeholders. Freeholder Arnone is quoted as saying “sent it back to SWAC.” In an August 7, 2017 letter from Marion Masnick, Clerk of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, “I am requesting that the Solid Waste Advisory Committee (“SWAC”) reconsider and relist the application.” The application was listed on the January 25, 2018 SWAC agenda meeting in Howell. At that meeting, when questioned about the August 7, 2017 letter from the Clerk of the Board of Freeholders by Attorney Paul Schneider, “I thought you said they aren’t reconsidering anything?” Mr. Christopher Beekman, the attorney representing the SWAC, stated, “you are correct.” Further he stated, “we were given our orders and we are here tonight abiding by those orders… Basically our orders are to allow the public to make comment and make them as part of the record so that the Freeholder’s can review it. I’m not going to say that again. I’m just not.” The SWAC took public comment, albeit limited by Mr. Christopher Beekman to two minutes per person, however, SWAC did not “reconsider” or “rehear” the application per the Freeholders instruction. SWAC receiving a letter from the municipality opposing the application overwhelming objection from the public on behalf of the Freeholders while not recasting their vote does not constitute a reconsideration. The SWAC’s May 18, 2017 vote did not consider the municipalities letters of opposition of July 28, 2017 and January 10, 2018 and therefore they voted on an incomplete record.
Fifth, there were several comments by Mr. Patrick Ward, of InSite Engineering, during the January 25, 2018 SWAC meeting for public comment and applicant presentation that are inconsistent with the application. Mr. Ward stated the facility will accept waste from 7 am to 5 pm but would load out and process waste after that time therefore making the operating hours presented to the SWAC and Freeholders incorrect. Mr. Ward also stated the applicant will not be receiving type 13 Bulky Waste, as type 13 was indicated in the notice. Mr. Ward stated the facility will be recycling up to 70% of the waste, but there is no mention in the notice that the applicant will operate a Material Recovery Facility. These are misrepresentations that the applicant has made to the SWAC and the Freeholders that render the application inaccurate and deficient.
A statement from Freeholder Director Tom Arnone in the Asbury Park Press said the law doesn’t give the solid waste advisory council or the Freeholders much leeway to reject proposals if they meet the law’s requirements. This statement is grossly incorrect. In the “Monmouth County Solid Waste Management Plan Procedure to Include a New Solid Waste Facility into the Plan,” it clearly states, “if a majority of the Solid Waste Advisory Council members feel it worthy of going to a Freeholder vote, the application will be voted on favorably by SWAC and move up to the consideration by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.” Further, it states, “A favorable recommendation by SWAC does not guarantee inclusion into the County Solid Waste Management Plan or NJDEP approval.” There is case law to support this, as in the case of Gary Walker d/b/a Omega Material Recovery v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, 2014 WL8726306 (NJ App. Div. 2015). In this case, the county Freeholder’s denied an application based on local community issues despite a positive recommendation from the SWAC, and the county Freeholder’s denial was upheld in Superior Court. Further detailed in this case, and similar to this application, “The Freeholder Board subsequently held a public hearing and adjourned the matter for two weeks because of concerns raised by the residents. Following the second hearing, the Freeholder Board rejected plaintiff’s application.”
It is also known through public record that Resource Engineering, LLC, the applicant, is owned by the husband and son of former Republican County Clerk M. Claire French, who is the Chair of the We Care About New Jersey Political Action Committee which has donated over $23,650 to Republicans from Monmouth County since 2015. This relationship with the all-Republican Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, coupled with the five comments above regarding the application and the application process being mismanaged by the SWAC, its attorney, and County employees, suggests potential for purposeful governmental mismanagement for the purpose of this application to be approved as quickly as possible. Expedited approval is financial advantageous to Claire French and her family, while the transfer station will be a detriment to the Howell community and taxpayers.
Therefore, based on the lack of transparency, written public disapproval, written opposition from the Mayor and Council, and the incompleteness of the application, I am asking the Freeholders to reject this application at the February 22, 2018 meeting. At a minimum, the application should be reconsidered by SWAC as originally moved by the Freeholder’s on July 27, 2017 so the SWAC can properly take the public comments and consider that information prior to SWAC’s vote on its reconsidered recommendation to the Freeholders.
Send a Message to Freeholders and County Representatives
By completing this form, you acknowledge and agree to send a copy of this this petition directly to all the government contacts listed above.