Mello 500-ton Trash Station Faces the Health Board

Tuesday March 29, 2022

Photo: Stewart Lytle / The Town Common. The intersection at Carleton Road and Main Street that would lead to the 500-ton transfer station.

GEORGETOWN – The town Board of Health will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on April 5 at the Georgetown High School to determine if the G. Mello Disposal Corp. can build a 500-ton per day transfer station at the end of Carleton Road.

In what will probably be the most impactful decision by a town board yet on the proposed trash transfer station, it will be Mello and his attorneys, consultants and environmental experts versus what appears to be a large contingent of town residents, who oppose the size and location of the proposed transfer station.

The town’s Planning Board and Conservation Commission have already refused to approve the station, and the town’s Town Meeting approved a bylaw limiting the size of future transfer station to 50 tons. The Zoning Board of Appeals approved the building of the transfer station.

Mello has appealed the Planning Board rejection to the state Land Court and filed suit against the town Conservation Commission in Superior Court. It has also challenged in court the town’s 50-ton bylaw.

In a separate action, the state Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) ruled on March 1 that the site is suitable for operating the transfer station.

The letter from MassDEP to the town was signed by Mark Fairbrother, the senior chief of the MassDEP’s Solid Waste Management division, and Richard Spiele, an agency environmental engineer. 

The letter concluded: “Based on its review of the Application in accordance with the applicable provisions of 310 CMR 16.40, Site Suitability Criteria, MassDEP has determined that the Site is suitable for the Applicant’s proposed solid waste management facility.”

The DEP decision kicked the issue back to the Georgetown Board of Health, which is required to hold a public hearing on the proposed transfer station. 

Mello, which collects and processes trash in several communities on the North Shore, currently operates a 50-ton per day transfer station on Main Street in Georgetown. The company leases the land from the town for that station and is facing a deadline this year from MassDEP to enclose the open station or close it.

The Mello proposal is to build a transfer station 10 times as large on privately owned land. If approved, it would sort up to 177,500 tons per year. 

In ruling the site suitable for the transfer station, the DEP accepted the assertions by Mello that its proposed station would be in compliance with state law. The report does not indicate whether the MassDEP staff conducted an independent analysis of the major issues raised by town boards and residents. 

MassDEP accepted Mello’s assertion that the station would not be in a public water supply zone nor within 500 feet of a residence, school, youth center or senior center. 

The MassDEP report quoted the conclusion by Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., (GPI) a traffic consultant hired by Mello “that the proposed development can be safely and efficiently accommodated along the existing roadway network. The GPI report also states that no project specific mitigation is warranted based on the incremental impacts of the proposed development.”

The Planning Board voted the station down in large part because it believed the traffic going and coming from the station would negatively impact traffic on Carleton Road and particularly the narrow intersection where Carlton Road meets Main Street (Rte. 133.)

The Planning Board hired Graham Associates, Inc. (Graham) to analyze the impact traffic at the station would have. Graham concluded that the additional traffic cause Carleton Drive to deteriorate and the additional trucks serving the station would have a negative impact on existing businesses along Carleton Drive. 

MassDEP agreed with the Mello consultants, which proposed that Mello and Georgetown “negotiate potential mitigation measures to address these concerns.”

As a result, MassDEP found that the site meets the criterion of traffic not having a negative impact on the roadways. 

The DEP report also disagreed with the town’s Conservation Commission on the possible negative impact on wildlife. It found that the site would have no adverse effect on wildlife in the area.

And finally, the DEP report ruled that the station will not create a nuisance to nearby residents in the form of noise, litter, vermin such as rodents and insects, odors and bird hazards to air traffic.

“The Application documents that the proposed operations would not result in nuisance conditions that would constitute a danger to the public health, safety or the environment,” the report said.

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