2012-02-29 / Front Page

Wood recycling plan may belong in front of county

Marlboro residents miffed that application was removed from zoning board agenda

MARLBORO — Much to the dismay of a crowd of residents who were eager to speak up, members of the Marlboro Zoning Board ofAdjustment did not hear testimony regarding an application proposing a wood recycling facility at their Feb. 21 meeting.

Atlantic Tree Reality, the applicant, is seeking a use variance to operate a wood recycling facility, to demolish an existing house and garage, and to construct a 60- by 40-foot shop/office building and a 60- by 100-foot shop building with a 25- by 100- foot canopy work area in a land conservation zone on property at 198 Tennent Road in the Morganville section of Marlboro.

Although the company filed an application with the Marlboro zoning board, jurisdiction might lie elsewhere, said attorney Kenneth Pape, who represents the applicant.

“This may be a Class B recycling facility as that term is used in the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations,” Pape told the board. “If it is, primary jurisdiction would be vested in the Monmouth County Solid Waste Advisory Council and the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders.”

Atlantic Tree Reality had not yet filed an application with the county at the time of the zoning board meeting.

Pape asked board members to strike the application from the evening’s agenda and to allow for an extension of time. The board members granted both requests.

The removal of the application from the agenda meant that members of the public who had come to voice their concerns about the application did not have the chance to do so on the record.

Town Hall barely had enough seating available to those in attendance, several of whom told the News Transcript they came to the meeting in protest of the proposed wood recycling plant.

Some residents became agitated after learning they would not have the opportunity to speak before the board that evening. Two uniformed police officers entered the meeting room after some residents rose to their feet and attempted to approach the microphone.

Attorney Bryant Gonzalez, who sat in for the board’s regular attorney, said the board did not have legal grounds to allow residents to speak about the application because the applicant had not presented any witnesses or testimony about the planned facility.

“Do you want this (application) to be approved by a man in a black robe as opposed to this board? Those are the types of issues we are talking about here. We have to comply with procedure,” Gonzalez said.

Board chairman Michael Shapiro said if the panel retains jurisdiction on the matter, members of the public will have a chance to place their comments on the record.

“We want your opinions heard very loudly. We truly do,” Shapiro said. “But, by law, we technically have nothing in front of us tonight.”

Pape said he would again send notices to residents who live near the subject property if it is found that the Marlboro zoning board holds jurisdiction over the application.

The property is near several neighborhoods and close to the Marlboro Early Learning Center, which holds preschool and kindergarten classes. MELC is at the corner of Tennent and Harbor roads.

Neighbors expressed concern to the News Transcript that a wood recycling facility could produce foul odors, loud noises and dust particles that could be inhaled by residents.

Resident Mark Pass said the location of the proposed recycling facility bothered most residents.

“We live in a beautiful suburban area,” he said. “Our town is nearly perfect in many ways, and the idea of having a solid waste recycling plant a few steps away from our children’s school is honestly insane.”

The parcel sits on conserved land, which should not be disturbed by such an operation, said Adam Yuan, who lives across the street from the lot.

“Supposedly, land conservation is used to protect the environment, but (the applicant) is proposing to build a recycling plant that (might) pollute the environment,” Yuan said .

Although the public hearing was canceled that evening, Pass said he believes members of the community will remain aware of the applicant’s plans.

“I am convinced that every person who is here tonight will bring four people with them to the next hearing if it’s in our town,” Pass said. “If it goes to the county level, I believe every person here will bring eight people with them.”

Many solid waste and recycling facilities are not subject to municipal land use law and traditional site plan approval, Larry Zaayenga, the supervising planner of the county’s solid waste council, told the News Transcript.

But municipal officials would still hold some weight if the county takes jurisdiction of theAtlantic Tree Reality application, Zaayenga said.

“As part of the county review and approval process, a copy of the application is provided to the town for comment by their professionals and/or committees,” Zaayenga said. “That input becomes an important consideration in whether (or not the county approves) a solid waste plan.”

Residents would be able to attend public hearings and share their thoughts about the plan, he said.

The application process could take more than two years, Zaayenga said, adding that if the applicant gains county approval, the company would need to undergo a state review process.

— Contact Jack Murtha at jmurtha@gmnews.com

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