Published DateTo the editor,
At the polls on March 12, Belmont voters will vote on a proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment (Ballot Question #2) to permit Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Transfer Stations in the Industrial Zone. The process to consider new uses in the Zoning Ordinance is an acknowledgement that people have a right to develop and use their properties in a manner that is consistent with the town's regulatory framework and the intent of the Master Plan. Belmont voters have amended the ordinance several times since its enactment to include new uses introduced by changes in society or technology.
This amendment was proposed when Bestway Disposal inquired about the possibility of adding a MSW Transfer Station at their Industrial Drive location. Currently transfer stations are not listed in the ordinance. Prior to placing the question on the ballot, the Planning Board researched available information, especially related to environmental safety as the Industrial Zone is located in the Aquifer District from which Belmont, Northfield and private owners draw water supplies.
Under NH DES Rules, MSW Transfer Stations are limited to accepting solid waste generated at residences, commercial or industrial establishments, and institutions. Unacceptable materials that are excluded are construction and demolition debris, automobile scrap and other motor vehicle waste, infection waste, asbestos waste, contaminated soil and other absorbent media and ash other than ash from household stoves.
DES began licensing transfer stations in the early 1980s and there are currently 230 operating municipal and private transfer facilities in the State. DES is not aware of any significant spill from a permitted transfer station. Fires have occurred. The facilities are subject to DES Solid and Hazardous Waste Rules and have specific design and waste transfer requirements which include where and how fluids are to be managed, floor drains, underground storage tanks, etc. They must have contingency plans in place and are also subject to all local Regulations. They must hold all required state and local public hearings, obtain all applicable permits and are subject to continued inspections by DES and the town.
The City of Laconia currently contracts with Waste Management to operate the city's Recycling and MSW Transfer Station. All MSW transfer on the site occurs under cover, on an impervious surface. Their successful environmental stewardship efforts were recognized in 2012 when Working for a Greener World, the Wildlife Habitat Council, presented the Transfer Station with its Wildlife at WorkSM certification and their Rookie of the Year Award.
Belmont Building/Health Official Steven Paquin reported that while serving in the same capacity in Allenstown, N.H., he inspected and permitted their regional MSW Transfer Station. He found the site, then under contract to Cassella Waste, to be operated and maintained in an impeccable manner. There were no contamination issues, a sophisticated system controlled any odor and fugitive dust, and no traffic problems resulted.
Communities hosting MSW Transfer Stations often enjoy a reduction in the cost of their waste disposal and/or opportunities for enhanced services. The proposed 2013 cost of solid waste collection and disposal for the Town of Belmont is in excess of $500,000 and the cost is anticipated to rise as disposal contracts expire. Being a host community may provide future cost saving options for Belmont along with other economic, environmental and social benefits.
Belmont Town Planner