Outdoor recycling area should not be permitted

Dec 05, 2011

To the Editor:

Wareham's Zoning Board of Appeals will conduct a public hearing on Wednesday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. to consider Petition #34-11 by Atlantic Metal Recycling to permit and construct an outdoor recycling area at 3127 Cranberry Highway.

The plan on file with this request for variance shows the installation of a 45-foot long truck scale (above ground) as well as six loading lanes and six large “bins” surrounded by concrete block walls for metals of various types.

This proposed operation would be conducted front and center on one of our community’s main thoroughfares with the above-ground truck scale to be located within 56 feet of Cranberry Highway. There are a number of homes less than 500 feet from the property lines, and one of the concrete block structures is a mere 10 feet from the east-side line.

The property at 3127 Cranberry Highway is in a "Strip Commercial (CS)" zoning district. Wareham’s zoning bylaws define a salvage yard as an industrial use, as follows: “A facility or area for storing, keeping, selling, dismantling, or salvaging scrap metal or discarded material or equipment.”

The business at Atlantic Metal Recycling would fall under "Industrial Uses," not "Strip Commercial."

Further, our zoning bylaws state that a junk yard shall be set back a minimum of 500 feet from any lot line or any public or private way.

Although it might be argued that a salvage yard is not a junk yard, they are quite similar. (Even our zoning bylaws combine the two in the same line item in the "Principal Use" table on page 13.)

The relatively small lot in question does not come anywhere close to providing a 500-foot buffer on any of the four sides of the property. According to the plan filed by the petitioner, the lot itself is less than 200 feet deep from Cranberry Highway to the rear lot line on its east side and only 208 feet deep on its west side.

To date, no public hearing has been held, nor has any special permit been granted.  Yet this industrial business has been operating at this location.

On November 28, Myles Burke, Director of Inspectional Services, informed us that the current work being performed at Atlantic Metal Recycling is supposed to be conducted entirely indoors. That has not been the case over the past several months.

We have heard outdoor work going on for some time now and saw it in progress on November 28, as did Town Planner John Charbonneau, when he visited the area on the same day.

Even though the materials that we observed being dumped appeared to be relatively small in size, the noise from the dumping and the piercing vehicle back-up alarms was anything but.

Adding to the overall unsightliness of that portion of the property were metal containers, roll-off truck bodies, piles of automotive parts, and numerous containers of various shapes and sizes.

The installation of a scale that would accommodate heavy, diesel-powered tandem axle and tri-axle trucks, plus six additional loading lanes and six large concrete-enclosed bins, would allow dumping to increase dramatically. This would bring even more noise and other nuisances related to a salvage yard to residential neighborhoods as well as to surrounding businesses.

The zoning bylaws were put in place for valid reasons. We are very much in favor of recycling efforts, but a metal recycling facility is an undisputed industrial use and should be located in one of Wareham’s industrial districts.

While we recognize and encourage the need to increase business along Cranberry Highway, a metal recycling facility does not belong in a "Strip Commercial" zoning district, especially one that is a main gateway to our community and in close proximity to several residential neighborhoods.

As abutters, we have tried to ignore the noise issues to date. That would no longer be remotely possible if this special permit and/or variance were to be granted.  The metal-on-metal din from dumping, coupled with engine noise, rumbling trucks, back-up alarms, etc., would be unrelenting. There would be a major increase in noise throughout the area surrounding this parcel, including parts of the Indian Mound neighborhood, Bay Pointe Drive Extension, and Cahoon Road.

As year-round residents of this community, we are categorically opposed to the location of this industrial use business in a strip commercial zone. This small parcel of land is slightly more than one acre and will become even smaller when the roadway is widened by the state. It is completely inappropriate for this type of use.

All residents of our community concerned about this matter should plan to attend the ZBA’s Public Hearing on December 14 at 7:30 p.m.


John and Deborah McGonnell

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