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Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Middle Zoners Postpone Decision on Indian Trail Recycling Center

By Al Campbell

 Future Mining and Recycling has, since 1990, operated a similar recycling facility on Goshen Road.
 The 261-acre site on Block 475, Lot 5, is on the south side of road, approximately opposite a former landfill.
 If the site sounds familiar, it is.
 Starting in the late 1980s, it was known as International Recycling Systems Cape May County (IRSCM) under former owner George Siter.
 Back then, IRSCM and Albrecht and Heun were vying for the same lucrative state contract.
 Now, with a $15,000 canceled check, it appeared Future Mining was ready to buy out its former competitor.
 After 30 months trying, Siter failed to link with the state’s $62-million North Wildwood Boulevard reconstruction because he did not win county approval to include the site in its solid waste management plan.
 On Dec. 8, after it listened to little over two hours of heated testimony,  Middle Township Zoning Board of Adjustment continued the matter to the Jan. 12 meeting at 7 p.m.
 Part of the reason for the continuance: lack of a needed “supermajority” of five affirmative votes for a use variance.
 That vote shortage resulted after Arthur Cornell said he had a “major concern” and was “very upset” to the degree that he would refuse to vote until land ownership or proof of purchase option could be produced. He quizzed legitimacy of an agent’s signature.
 Joyce Jewell said she would abstain, demanding assurances, prior to a vote, that ground water would not be tainted.
 Jewell based her concern on an adjacent property owner’s testimony that widespread cancer cases exist in the vicinity.
 The site’s past — from its July 1987 inglorious entry onto the local landscape under IRSCM ownership as a place to chew up concrete from old North Wildwood Boulevard to its October 2000 failed proposal to become a golf course — was resurrected by attorney Kenneth E. Calloway.
 A former municipal judge, Calloway “refreshed” the memory of Future Mining and Recycling’s attorney Jeffrey April, with several documents, that IRSCM was, at one time,  April’s client.
 April told Calloway he’d “forgotten that, since it was in 1986.”
 Initially, Calloway refused to identify his client.
 “I represent objectors,” he said flatly.
 “They will remain confidential,” Calloway told board Chairman James McLaughlin.
 Later, under pressure from Zoning Board Solicitor Victoria Steffen to reveal his client, Calloway acceded, identifying him as Andrew Pfeiffer, who operates a gravel pit across Indian Trail Road from the proposed site.
 Planner Timothy Michel testified that the gravel pit and recycling center would be on a site “previously mined and part of the township mining ordinance as Site 22.”
 “The mining operation stopped. Therefore, we come before the board to ask for a use variance since it’s not a permitted use in the zone,” said Michel.
 The tract is located in two zones, Community Business and Restricted Industrial.
 The intended use, he said, is not a “permitted” use in either zone.
 However, Michel testified that a gravel pit was suited to the property, especially since it was formerly used for that purpose.
 Among permitted uses, he said, are wholesale distribution of meat and seafood, business offices, methadone clinics and public utilities.
 To place the site away from other structures, he said a 200-foot minimum buffer would be used, something that far exceeds mandated distances.
 Future Mining’s traffic engineer Doug Freudenrich told the board 100 truck trips per day could be expected to visit the site.
 His estimate was based on 11 trips per hour, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.
 “The majority of traffic would be coming from the Wildwood area,” he said.
 One of the documents Calloway contested was an agreement to purchase which had an unrecognizable signature of a purported IRSCM agent, and a notary public’s signature, whose commission had expired prior to the date of signing.
 That concerned Cornell. He said in all his years of zoning board membership, never before had a question of land ownership arisen before the board, as did Future Mining’s.
 The testimony of Henry and Dolores Spaulding, who live on Shunpike Road, but who own land adjacent to the proposed pit and center, was what concerned Jewell.
 “Pollution is a problem now,” said Mr. Spaulding. He said he had to install a new, 100-foot well due to “all this stuff coming in.”
 “We were surrounded by dumps,” said Mrs. Spaulding.
 “My grandmother died of cancer, my aunt died of cancer, there are seven cases of brain cancer on our street. My three sisters have breast cancer. I’m concerned about that,” said Mrs. Spaulding.
 She said one woman “up the street”, who has a brain tumor, when pregnant was urged to drink bottled water because of water pollution concerns.
 “Brain cancer is a very rare thing. To have seven on one street is almost unheard of,” she added. “It’s worth checking into.” 
 “Whenever they wanted to put in a golf course, it was shot down because of chemicals,” she said. “Now, they want to do something more hazardous than before. I just don’t know where it’s going to end. We don’t need any more things happening to people on account of pollution.”
 Joseph Ravitz, township assessor, but who spoke as a private owner, who owns a 3.27-acre parcel adjacent to the tract, also objected.
 His concern was for trucks that would “kick up dust” that will “definitely go over these properties.”
 Future Mining intends to use sprinklers to minimize dust, he was told.
 No further notice of the Jan. 12 meeting will be made, Steffen said.
 Contact Campbell at: al.c@cmcherald.com

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