ConCom Approves Trash Transfer Station

Tuesday February 20, 2024

A large truck on the narrow Carleton Drive, Georgetown.

GEORGETOWN – The Conservation Commission (ConCom), under direction of the state Land Court, voted last week four to zero with two abstentions to approve the controversial trash transfer station on Carleton Drive.
The commission, which regulates wetlands and other environmental issues in the town, denied a permit to G. Mello Disposal Corp. on Jan. 3, 2022, but on appeal state Land Court Judge Kevin Smith last year ordered the ConCom to approve the trash station with conditions that are not “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.”
The ConCom chair Rebecca Chase, members Ida Wye, Logan Umberger and Tom Howland voted for the motion, offered by Umberger, to approve the project, while vice chair Rachel Bancroft and Chris Candia abstained because they were not allowed under the court order to vote no.
Umberger thanked Jason Mello for his patience with the multi-year approval process, saying “there were places where the commission overstepped its authority.”
The vote for the project cleared away the largest of the last barriers to the construction of the 550-ton station. The Planning Board, also under orders from the Land Court to approve the station, is negotiating with Mello to agree on the conditions it will impose on the station.
The ConCom rejected Mello’s application for a permit because it believed the station would disturb the property’s wetlands and did not adequately replicate the disturbed wetlands.
Mello plans to build a new road for the station through the wetlands. It plans to replace the disturbed wetlands by constructing new wetlands elsewhere on the property. Mello declined to use an existing road that would have disturbed the wetlands less because it would have required that the station face neighboring homes instead of the highway.
One condition that was agreed to by the commission and Mello must plant and maintain extensive vegetation on sections of the property.
The fight over the station is a major reason the ConCom and members of the SelectBoard have been conflict in recent months. A divided SelectBoard has not been able to fill a vacancy created when SelectBoard chair Amy Smith demanded the resignation of the previous chair Carl Shreder.
The SelectBoard plans to meet next week to consider a petition by Michael Donahue that it remove Bancroft from the ConCom and the Community Preservation Commission. Bancroft, who also sits on the SelectBoard, has refused to resign from the two town committees.
The Board of Health earlier approved the Mello station, imposing several stringent conditions on it. Those conditions included rebuilding Carleton Road to standards set by an outside engineer, and limiting the size of the station to 150 tons for the first two years.
Mello’s existing transfer station at 203 E. Main St., which will be closed under orders of the state Department of Environmental Protection, is currently limited to 50 tons. Neighbors objected to allowing Mello to build a station 10 times as large.
The tonnage ceiling for the new station during the first two years is expected to reduce the number of large tractor-trailer trucks to six per day using Carleton Drive.
Mello must apply to the Board of Health to increase operations in the third year to 350 tons, to 450 tons for the fourth year and to 550 tons for the fifth year and beyond.
The board required Mello to submit a report every two weeks on how much tonnage is being processed each day at the station, but it did not specify if there would be an independent review of those reports.
Probably the most costly expense the town imposed on the Mello is for rebuilding the narrow, deteriorating Carleton Drive to a standard determined by an engineer hired by the town. Miller Engineering, working with the town’s Planning Board, has already determined that the 1,600-foot road must have a base of 20 inches of gravel, topped with 12 more inches of crushed gravel, 3 inches of binding material and 2 inches of asphalt.
Among the conditions the Planning Board is considering that will likely impact traffic in Georgetown involve management for the trucks at the intersection of Carleton Drive and state Highway 133. The large trash-carrying trucks entering and exiting the narrow street are expected to impact traffic on a major artery serving Georgetown.

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