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Carolina Beach Council Decides To Move Waste Transfer Station

Town of Carolina Beach Waste Transfer Station on Bridge Barrier Road adjacent to the Post Office and residential homes.  The Council agreed on July 2nd, to direct the Town Manager to find an alternate location for the operation that began earlier this year. 

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council unanimously gave direction to Town Manager Michael Cramer on Wednesday July 2, to bring back options for relocating the Town's new waste transfer station. The Council also had lengthy discussion about options to relocate their operations department and personnel currently housed at Town Hall in a converted police training room.
The Council unanimously approved entering into a lease with an option to buy property at 1313 Bridge Barrier Road for $260,000 at their August 13, 2013 meeting. The land is being used as a waste transfer station to hold trash collected from public cans throughout Town, along the beachfront and at Freeman Park.
The Town had been searching for a location for many months after the U.S. Army notified them over a year ago dumpsters located on land leased to the Town were not in compliance and had to be removed. After receiving permission to extend several deadlines to comply with the lease, the Town requested another extension from the U.S. Army to continue various operations until September 2013.
The Town was notified in April of 2012 they were in violation of their 1972 lease agreement with the U.S. Army for land off of Dow Road. The "buffer zone" is land owned by the U.S. Army for the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) across the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County. The port deals in ammunition and the buffer zone serves as a "blast zone" in the event of an incident. The zone covers the largest area of land west of Dow Road in Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher.
The property housed the Town's Operations Department including public works, public utilities, storm water department and the Town's garage. Additionally, it was home to a greenhouse, various offices and storage areas as well as large dumpsters. The 1972 lease only permitted a wastewater treatment plant, a storage building and related uses. One of the more complicated issues is where to relocate dumpsters used to hold trash collected from public trashcans throughout Town and along the beachfront.
The Army originally demanded the Town comply by the end of 2012 and granted an extension until June 2013 to continue using dumpsters on site and a garage to maintain Town vehicles.
The Town searched for alternate locations for both the dumpsters and garage for a number of months. They ultimately approved a permit to locate both on property they own in a residential district behind the Federal Point Shopping Center off North Lake Park Blvd a short distance from Town Hall. That would have called for using a small portion of a nearly 10-acre tract of land for trash compactors and a garage building.
Homeowners in the adjacent neighborhood behind the shopping center filed an action in court challenging the decision citing concerns with noise, odor and other issues. The Town began negotiations with Jim Conlon, the owner of property at 110 Dow Road to pay an annual lease. That would have served as an alternate location from the previous plan to locate the transfer station and garage behind the shopping center.
Ultimately the Town signed a lease with an option to buy for the Bridge Barrier Road property. A large ramp and concrete containment area was constructed to permit disposal of refuse in a trash compactor. The refuse is collected from public trashcans throughout town, along the beachfront and within Freeman Park. The compactor is emptied by a trash hauler on a regular basis.
Residents living adjacent to the property complained earlier this year about noise and odor coming from the site and the negative impacts it is having on their quality of life and property values.
In March of this year the Council voted to postpone a decision to purchase the land on Bridge Barrier Road pending more information on alternate uses for the property and seeking a new location for the station. The Council approved spending up to $34,909.00 for the additional improvements to the waste transfer station to address concerns.
During the July 2nd workshop the Council discussed the history of previous attempts to locate a new home for the trash station.
Councilman Gary Doetsch said he was confident that himself, Council member Leann Pierce and Mayor Dan Wilcox were in favor of moving the transfer station.
Last month the Council discussed the issue at their regular meeting. The Town has been working to adjust the schedule of when large trucks enter the transfer station to empty a large trash compactor to haul to the landfill. Also, limiting the times when Town vehicles dump trash into the compactor throughout the day. Neighbors have complained about the loud noise from the truck engines and alarms that sound as vehicles are backing up. Other complaints include foul odor including the smell of rotten fish collected from trashcans at the Town's marina.
Public Works Director Brian Stanberry said the Town has taken steps including installing deodorizers and rodent traps.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "I'm not opposed to moving it Gary, but I think it’s false to expect us to do it at a cost effective manner and I don't think we've exhausted every opportunity we have to control the odor. No offense, but I personally cannot make Council decisions for the community or have financial fiduciary responsibility on a budget worried about someone is going to sue us."
Doetsch cited concerns there may be future lawsuits brought against the Town by area property owners due to the negative impact the station has on their quality of life and property values.
Doetsch referenced a previous location behind the Federal Point Shopping Center and a lawsuit filed by nearby residents saying, "Apparently you worried about it the first time and you changed direction."
Shuttleworth said, "We had a conditional use. This particular property is zoned industrial and always has been zoned industrial and as a use by right" there is no requirement for special permitting.
Shuttleworth said there are a lot of uses that could take place on the property in an Industrial zoning district. He said, "It's been zoned Industrial for a long, long time and there are a variety of more intense uses than this if it occurred in industrial."
In fact, the property on Bridge Barrier Road is not zoned "I" or "Industrial". The area is zoned for "Highway Business" and is geared towards commercial use similar to other areas of the Highway Business District located along Lake Park Blvd.
Shuttleworth said he agrees there is an issue with odor.
Mayor Wilcox said it's a function of being a good neighbor and recently when he visited the property the smell lingered in his vehicle well after he had driven home.
Council member Sarah Friede said originally they were told there would be no issue with odor.
The Council ultimately agreed to direct the Town Manager to explore options to relocate the transfer station and return to Council at a later date.
Shuttleworth said he wanted the Manager to continue looking at ways to reduce the odor at the station in the interim.
Several people spoke to Council about the transfer station during the meeting.
Lucy Sears lives in her home adjacent to the transfer station. She spoke to the Council on July 2nd saying, "The fish odor is not the only thing. We have rodents, we have opossums, we have raccoons. My puppy and I walked up on a raccoon on my deck last week. It turned around, looked at us, hissed at us before it took off running. It has been crapping on my deck."
She said, We've never had problems before. Never had rats before. Never had raccoons or opossums."
Council member Sarah Friede said they will work to make things better. She said, "We are trying... we are trying."
The Council also voted three to two directing the Town Manager to bring back a plan to return the Police Training Room to its original state and relocate the Operations Department staff to another location.