Majority opposes zoning change in Hilltown Twp.

Sustainable Waste Solutions wants to locate trash transfer station

Published: 8:38 AM EST Dec 24, 2013   Updated: 8:11 AM EDT Sep 26, 2013

After nearly five hours of testimony, the consensus among the literally hundreds of Hilltown Township residents who turned up to voice their opinions about a proposed trash transfer station Sustainable Waste Solutions hadn't changed that much.

"You're not welcome here," said township resident Kevin Foster to SWS officials.

Of the nearly five dozen people who spoke at a zoning hearing meeting before the board of supervisors meeting, only four of them offered their support of the proposal to have a 19-acre property on Bethlehem Pike near Keystone Drive in Hillltown rezoned from the current light industrial designation to heavy industrial.

But the overwhelming majority of people who strode up to the microphone echoed a familiar refrain.

"I don't feel this is going to help the township," said township resident Joanne Kerr.

Many residents felt the way Kerr did because of concerns about damage to the township's roads, a decrease in property values, noise, odors and overall safety. During Wednesday night's marathon session many residents expressed dismay about odors and rodents, along with safety hazards, from another similar facility and believe if approved, SWS would follow suit.

Some factual information of note was presented early in the hearing by SWS. They noted that a total of 262 trucks a day would be entering and leaving the facility, translating to about 41 trucks per hour during a typical eight-hour workday.SWS founder and CEO Randy Hendricks said several times in different ways Wednesday night that his company has been a progressive pioneer in the landfill-free philosophy of the trash business. He said the trash is either recycled, reused, composted or converted into energy. Hendricks also noted that the company has more than 300 clients.

When asked where the trash would come from geographically, he replied areas in southeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.He added the township would gain income from fees paid by the station and that the project, "would benefit the township."

While many residents were opposed to the proposal, a near majority of the crowd also expressed admiration for SWS's philosophy and said they were completely in favor of it - just not in their township.

"It just doesn't belong here," said township resident Mark Geitz.

Supervisors did not render any decision Wednesday night and did not comment on the plan directly. No date was given for the next hearing where a verdict could be rendered on Wednesday night.