Opposition to composting in the township is so strong that improvised signs appeared along Township Road for drivers to see as they made their way to the latest zoning hearing board session at the township building May 17.
As the hearing, that began last year, comes toward a close, there are just two more sessions planned for May 22 and June 7. Attorney Vivian Narehood will get her turn to present her case on behalf of the Southern Chester County Concerned Citizens Association - a group of area residents formed to oppose the composting plan.
Andrew Jones and Michael Losito have challenged the zoning ordinance concerning composting in an effort to use property at Reedville and West Branch Roads for a compost operation. Both men testified at the May 17 hearing, responding to questions from township Solicitor Winifred Sebastian and Narehood.
Sebastian's questions centered on some of the details of operation for the composting plant, including how many trucks would be in and out during a day, and how long fresh manure and material would be on site before being put into the composting bunkers. Jones testified that from start to finish the composting process averages 12 days, and that fresh material is not kept in storage very long. He estimates about 20 trucks a day in deliveries.
She also asked Jones about his application to DEP to install the concrete pad for the composting. The permit is necessary because the pad will be on top of a covered landfill.
Though the permit process is not completed, Jones contends that the pad would not disturb the landfill material. "That landfill is a trench landfill - it's not a solid mound of trash. That means that there's 20 feet of trash and 20 feet of virgin ground. Any pilings that would have to be driven would be driven in the virgin ground between the landfill strips," he said. "We will never disturb the existing landfill whatsoever."
Jones also testified that when he purchased the property, composting was not allowed in the industrial zone. His own Attorney George Brutscher later asked what led him to believe the supervisors would amend the ordinances to allow composting, Jones replied that he had spoken several times to Supervisor Art Astle.
"There was quite a bit of encouragement that it was a great thing, and if we had to have it, the industrial area was the place for it to be," he said.
In questioning Losito, Sebastian presented a DEP report made concerning Losito's spent mushroom composting operation in London Grove. That report expressed concerns about potential runoff across a driveway, but there was no violation issued.
Losito conceded that there have been many complaints about odors from spent mushroom soil composting, but he does not think there is the same odor problem with fresh composting. "It's all about air. The spent (composting) is so much more dense," he said. "We went through a learning curve there."
Once all the testimony is completed, the attorneys for all parties will have a chance to submit summaries in writing. The zoning hearing board will meet to deliberate, and then they will give their decision.