Waste Management Issue in Hillsdale

Is waste management station an issue?
Garbage is shown at the Waste Management Inc. transfer
Garbage is shown at the Waste Management Inc. transfer station in Hillsdale, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Photo: Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com)

One business that doesn’t fall into the vision some officials have for the industrial zone is Waste Management, Inc. — a 5-acre waste transfer station on Brookside Place.

“Who’s going to want to redevelop this area with a waste transfer station in the middle of it?” Mayor John Ruocco said.

The company recently resumed operations after halting for several years in 2014 due to a partially collapsed roof.

Borough officials have challenged the state Department of Environmental Protection’s decision to reissue Waste Management’s Solid Waste Facility Permit. The borough claims the Hillsdale location is inappropriately placed, bringing loud noises, foul smells and heavy truck traffic through the center of the borough’s downtown and near residential areas.

A man works on a truck, at the Waste Management Inc.
A man works on a truck, at the Waste Management Inc. transfer station, in Hillsdale, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Photo: Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com)

But John Hambrose, communications manager for Waste Management, said the station is “tucked into a commercial/industrial district that is hardly in the center of Hillsdale.”

The Bergen County Utilities Authority is currently reviewing the county’s solid waste management plan and borough officials are hopeful it will deem the Hillsdale site redundant. After all, they say, the station was closed for several years and the company was able to get along without it.

But Hambrose said the location provides “essential and convenient” services to the county.

Residents near the industrial zone say they would rather see “anything except garbage” in Waste Management’s place.

The Waste Management Inc. transfer station, in Hillsdale,
The Waste Management Inc. transfer station, in Hillsdale, is located near the intersection of Patterson St. and Piermont Ave. Thursday, March 1, 2018 (Photo: Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com)

The bad smell
Bill and Sue Monahan have lived on Piermont Avenue, just across the railroad tracks from Waste Management, for more than 40 years. When they moved in, they say the site, which was operated by another company at the time, was used for truck parking, then cardboard collection.

But since it started handling garbage, quality of life has severely declined, the couple says.

“We’re impacted by the noise and the smell, especially the smell – in the summer it’s unbearable,” Bill Monahan said. “Plus you have 18-wheelers going through out town, which is not the safest thing.”

Bill Monahan, has lived on Piermont Ave. in Hillsdale
Bill Monahan, has lived on Piermont Ave. in Hillsdale for more than 40 years, and is not happy with Waste Management Inc. and the transfer station located on his street. Thursday, March 1, 2018 (Photo: Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com)

Michael Wowkun, also a Piermont Avenue resident, said the smell is so intrusive, he can’t have people over for a barbecue, or keep his windows open. A fan in the facility hums from daybreak until evening, he said, driving him “nuts.”

“It’s a horrible quality of life living there,” he said.

Councilman Zoltan Horvath, who also lives nearby Waste Management, agreed, calling the quality of life in the area “abominable.”

“We pay high taxes and we don’t enjoy the peace and quiet that everyone else in town does,” he said. “This station should not be here, it should be on a major highway.”

Redevelopment area qualifications
Under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, a property must meet certain qualifications to be deemed an “area in need of redevelopment.”

These include:

Buildings that are substandard, unsafe, unsanitary, dilapidated, becoming obsolete, lack light, air, or space and create unwholesome living or working conditions.
Discontinued use or abandoned buildings previously used for commercial, manufacturing, or industrial purposes.
Areas with buildings or improvements detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or welfare of the community because of: dilapidation, obsolescence, overcrowding, faulty arrangement or design, lack of ventilation, light and sanitary facilities, excessive land coverage, deleterious land use or obsolete layout.
A growing or total lack of proper use of areas caused by property ownership issues that impede land assemblage or discourage the undertaking of improvements that result in a stagnant and unproductive condition of land that’s potentially useful and valuable for contributing to and serving the public health, safety and welfare of the surrounding area or the community in general and is presumed to be having a negative social, economic or other detrimental impact to the same.
Areas greater than five acres whereon buildings or improvements have been destroyed by fire or natural disaster.
The designation of the delineated area is consistent with smart growth planning principles adopted pursuant to law or regulation.

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