P&Z to discuss disposal of large rubber waste piles

Developer’s representatives were expected to meet with Independence Drive residents on May 24 to explain a new plan to re-bury all the sponge rubber waste dug up on two vacant lots.

Steven Bellis, attorney for property owner Roger Spinelli of Ronic Enterprises, said the meeting was set up to discuss how the waste — now being stored in large piles near the road — could potentially be placed in new trenches in the rear of the two vacant lots.

Bellis said an engineer has been retained to measure how much debris is involved, and identify sites where it potentially could be put back in the ground. A map detailing the re-burial plan was expected to be shown to neighbors at the Wednesday night meeting.

The engineer has “calculated the approximate volume of the rubber pile to be buried at 8,000 cubic yards,” Bellis said earlier this week.

The developer would still need to get city and state approval for the re-burial plan, which is far from certain. Bellis said he expects to approach city and state officials soon with the new plan and to seek any necessary permits.

Neighbors have grown increasingly upset with the large piles of highly visible rubber waste and dirt so close to the road. It was excavated earlier this year with the required state approval and was supposed to be hauled away and not stored on-site.

Much more debris was excavated than had been estimated when Spinelli secured his state permit. The properties also now have a large hole, or trench, from where the debris was dug up. Spinelli recently put up a fence around parts of the property, Bellis said.

The waste, believed to be from the former B.F. Goodrich sponge rubber plant downtown, has likely been buried in the ground for decades. It is not considered hazardous and could potentially be taken to the local trash-to-energy plant or an out-of-state landfill.

But Bellis said the cost of getting rid of the debris could reach $400,000, making that approach “not a realistic option” and more costly than the value of the two undeveloped lots. Spinelli has zoning permission to build two houses on the two lots, which are near Lexington Court, a cul-de-sac off Independence Drive.

The city has served Spinelli with a cease-and-desist order prohibiting more excavation, and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is watching the situation and could issue a violation notice as well.

Independence Drive is a residential neighborhood originally built by the Toll Brothers development company about two decades ago. It is not too far from the city’s high school and intermediate school. Toll Brothers never developed the two lots with the then-buried sponge rubber waste.