| May 08, 2008

Feature Article - May 8, 2008

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Feature Article - May 8, 2008 Neighbours remain uneasy over proposed composting operationBy Jeff GreenA zoning amendment application that has already been the subject of two public meetings at Central Frontenac Council continues to be troubling for residents of 13 Island Lake and for some of their neighbours.

Casey Shea of Earthworx faces an uphill public relations struggle in convincing residents that a proposed commercial composting facility is a good idea for a site that Earthworx owns on Westport Road at the junction of Central and South Frontenac townships.

“I am troubled by some of the claims Casey Shea has made, for example that there will be no impacts on air quality, and by the environmental impacts I’ve already witnessed at the site,” said Glenna Asselstine, a 13 Island Lake resident.

Asselstine has appealed to the Ministry of the Environment in Kingston to investigate the current operations at the Earthworx site.

Jon Morrish of the Ministry of the Environment (Kingston Office) said that Earthworx has never applied for a certificate of approval for its site on the Westport Road, so it is therefore not in violation of any permit.

Earthworx received zoning approval from Central Frontenac in 2002 for a leaf and yard waste composting site using material that comes only from within the township, but it has never applied to the Ministry of the Environment for a certificate of approval to begin operating a composting facility there.

According to Casey Shea, the site is used for aggregate and topsoil extraction, and as a storage site for materials for his landscaping business.

Glenna Assesltine said that she has seen “a large heap of compost on the site, full of landfill items (pop bottles, plastic, material, garbage bags, rope, oil and antifreeze jugs, tire, window frames and furniture)”

Casey Shea told the News that the compost at the site is finished compost produced at the Lappin’s Lane composting facility in Kingston that is managed by Earthworx under contract with the city, and it is screened and trucked out to customers along with a variety of other materials that are piled up at the site.

The impetus for Earhworx’ application to re-zone the Godfrey site is a “request for proposal” from the City of Kingston, seeking a contractor to take delivery of curbside source-separated organics for composting. Source-separated organics include meat, eggs, table scraps, coffee, etc.

Eathworx is applying for wording changes in its zoning to include source-separated organics as well as leaf and yard waste, and to eliminate the wording that restricts out of township material from being composted at the site.

If it is successful in its zoning application, the company intends to apply for three certificates of approval from the Ministry of the Environment.

The News contacted an official from the MoE approvals branch in Toronto, who said the permitting process is the same for source-separated organics as it is for yard and leaf waste, but that the details concerning how the process is completed can be quite different depending on a variety of factors. “Details will vary based on the type of facility, the materials to be handled, proximity to neighbours, and the nature of the site itself,” she said.

Although source-separated organic composting is new to the Kingston area, there have been composting operations elsewhere in Ontario for about 10 years.

“For the most part they work o.k.,” she said, but acknowledged there have been problems with air quality at some locations, with effects that can range for up to 1 kilometre from the site, “but every circumstance is different and we put in specific requirements in each certificate of approval that we issue”.

The approval process includes a posting on the Ministry’s Environmental Bill of Rights website, which invites public comment. It also includes notification to all neighbouring landowners with information about who they can contact with concerns. “This is the minimal consultation, more can be done in specific cases, especially where there is controversy.”

The certificate of approval process takes 3 to 6 months at a minimum, she said, with one year or longer being common.

Glenna Asselstine said she will work to block the project at every step in the process, but she still hopes Central Frontenac will not approve the zoning.

“I truly believe that council members will make a decision that is best for the public and residents concerned, with the exception of the mayor who said to me that she is still ‘on board’ with composting.”

The News has learned that later this week members of Central Frontenac Council will be visiting a leaf and yard waste composting facility in Kingston that is managed by Earthworx to see how it is run.

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