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Galt wants to know: Is proposal for a recycling center or transfer station?

California Waste Recovery Systems proposal has some residents worried; City Council to hear appeal on Tuesday

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Posted: Friday, July 13, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:28 am, Fri Jul 13, 2012.

Is California Waste Recovery Systems building a recycling center or a permanent transfer station in Galt?

That's what a group of Galt citizens circulating a petition to stop the Lodi-based business from moving to Galt want to know. It is the second official opposition to the project the Planning Commission approved last month.

The appeal is scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the City Council.

"This is not a transfer station, but there is nothing preventing them from transforming to a transfer station," city planner Chris Erias said. "But if they did, they would have to go through the same review process, the public hearings ... to get that use permit. We wouldn't prevent them from doing that."

California Waste already provides garbage collection service for Galt residents and elsewhere in both Sacramento and San Joaquin counties. But it currently takes the green waste, recycling and garbage carts to Stockton and Sacramento for processing.

The company would like to move the business and 45 jobs to an existing building at 175 Enterprise Court, with plans to potentially add up to 15 jobs. If the use permit is approved by the council, it will be allowed to sort the recycling cart at the new facility.

A California Waste representative could not be reached for comment as of press time.

What is it?

But some community members feel there are discrepancies with the project.

For example, a route map submitted to the Planning Commission detailing truck routes call the project a permanent transfer station, while the project has been identified as a materials recovery/recycling center.

If the map listed it as a transfer station, "that was in error," Erias said this week. "There may have been a couple of errors or typos made by someone who is new, but anyone paying attention to the project knows what it is supposed to be. Residential garbage will not be coming into Galt."

However, actual garbage discarded by customers may be mixed in with recycling carts, and that is why a solid waste disposal permit is required. There seems to be some confusion in the community as to why California Waste applied for such a permit, Erias said.

He added that the city will limit the business to actions as a materials recovery center, which will not allow garbage to be dumped or processed.

"Whatever state permits they get are separate from what the city approves. Their goal is to get the use permit to operate a recycling facility, but a materials recovery center may have residual garbage in it," Erias said. "The primary purpose of the facility will be to gather recycling material and ship it to market."

This is not the first time California Waste has attempted to move to Galt.

"Because of public outcry, it did not go through," resident Tracy Gross said of a 2007 proposal. "At that time, the owners told us at a meeting that they would not try to bring one back to a new council. Here we have to fight it again."

But Mayor Barbara Payne said the company wanted to open a transfer station at that time, which was ultimately denied, and this is a recycling center, which is different.

Recycling center proposal

Hours of operation of the proposed recycling center will initially be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., although the company may eventually operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, similar to other businesses in the Industrial Park, according to the project specifications approved by the Planning Commission last month.

The proposed 97,000-square-foot recycling processing center is estimated to receive slightly less than 100 tons per day of recyclables generated from the city of Galt and the surrounding service area for California Waste.

Materials will include newspaper, cardboard, mixed paper, various plastics, aluminum and bi-metal cans and glass. Once separated by mechanical or manual methods, the recyclable materials will be processed and shipped to market. All materials other than glass will be baled for shipping, according to planning documents.

Gross is not convinced.

"They are still planning to bring garbage to a facility, dump it and transfer it to another location. Thus a garbage transfer station," she said. "As before, this will mean smell, flies, heavy traffic and an operation that does not fit in with the other businesses in that area."

At the June 12 Planning Commission meeting when the matter was first heard, most of the handful of public comments were related to traffic concerns.

Collection trucks will enter and exit the site beginning at 4:30 a.m. via existing driveways at the southeast end of the property, and then proceed along the east side of the building, where they will be weighed at a new in-ground scale before entering a tipping area to unload the recyclable material.

It will then be pushed into a conveyor system with a front loader. The recyclable material will then enter a series of conveyor systems for separating the material. After separation, each recycled item is compressed or bundled.

Any residual waste will be collected daily and hauled to regional landfills such as North County Landfill in San Joaquin County or Kiefer Road Landfill in Sacramento County.

Access to and from Highway 99 by trucks will be via designated routes, typically along Industrial Drive from Enterprise Court to Amador Avenue. Trucks will use either Carol Drive, Lincoln Way or Simmerhorn Road to exit or enter Highway 99, depending on the route of travel, according to the planning documents.

Since the proposed California Waste operation is taking place in a fully enclosed building, city planners have said noise and odors will not affect surrounding businesses.

In 2004, the company operated an interim transfer station on Industrial Court and Erias said there were no complaints.

Formal appeal filed

Gross believes the city pulled a fast one on its residents. The Planning Commission knew the citizens were against this type of facility, she said, but they did not make sure that there was better notice to the citizens about last month's meeting.

"They also ignored my request to wait one meeting to make a decision so that the people of Galt could be told," Gross said.

The long-time resident said that last time a project such as this was submitted to the city, more information was published.

"Sure, they put in a legal notice on the back of The Galt Herald, but how many people read that?" she said.

Gross, who has circulated the petition with hopes of keeping California Waste from opening its materials recovery facility in Galt, is not the only one against the company's plans.

On June 21, an attorney representing the Savage Family LLC, which owns the adjacent United Rotary Brush, filed an appeal against the Planning Commission decision.

A business representative also submitted a letter to the Planning Commission taking issue with the environmental review and anticipated noise and traffic. He could not be reached for comment.

In the end, Gross said the city is calling the project a "permanent transfer station" on their own paperwork but they are trying to slide it past the citizens as a recycling center.

"There is no benefit to the city or the citizens. We have said loud and clear before that we do not want this here," she said. "We fought this already. We don't want the traffic, smell, trash on the roads, trucks running 24/7 right in front of the Galt Police station and a great place to eat, The Squeeze Inn."

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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