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Backers derail Bridesburg trash station plan

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Bridesburg and Port Richmond residents holding their noses over concerns of a new trash transfer site planned for the community can now breathe a sigh of relief.

The project has been canceled.

On Friday, Aug. 5, John Ryan, one of the partners from the New York-based Aramingo Rail Transfer, LP, which was hoping to bring a new transfer operation to the 9-acre site at Church Street and Aramingo Avenue, told the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment his company was dropping the project.

The plan would have come before the zoning board on Wednesday last week.

Ryan didn’t return repeated calls for comment.

Alan Levin, president of the neighboring Northeast Building Products, who had led a vocal opposition to the project, spoke to Ryan when he announced the project would be canceled.

“He said he felt he had a valid position,” recalled Levin, during an interview last week. “But, he felt the people of the neighborhood would never be behind him.”

“And, he was right,” continued Levin.

For the past three years, Levin said, the community has been opposed to the project, slated for 2580 Church St.

In fact, during a neighborhood meeting last September, Ryan presented the project to a rowdy audience that wanted little to do with the plan.

Levin and Northeast Building Products even went so far as to offer transportation to neighbors looking to oppose the project at the Aug. 10 zoning board hearing.

Yet, Ryan said, it would have been a greener, cheaper way to handle municipal waste.

Ryan’s company wanted to create an enclosed building along the train tracks at that site, at which city trash trucks would have been able to transfer their loads to a waiting train that would then move the waste out of the city.

Shipping by rail, Ryan said, would help cut down on harmful emissions from trash trucks currently used to transport trash from the city.

However, at full capacity, the projected trash transfer facility would receive 2,500 tons of trash per day. This would account for about 325 garbage trucks a day traveling through Bridesburg and Port Richmond to get to the transfer site.

The business, operating on a more limited scale, could have been built without a variance from the city because the area is zoned for properties such as the transfer facility. But, when the project first was pitched in 2006, there was no mention that it would also be dealing with municipal waste; the site was originally to be used for construction debris only.

The recent zoning variance application was needed because of later plans to include municipal waste.

Once that was made clear, many groups, including the Bridesburg Civic Association, refused to support the project.

“This is just a weight off our chest,” said Levin. “Pretty much everyone we talked to was against it.”

The site is near Levin’s business at 4280 Aramingo Ave. He said many opposed the plan because of concerns of rodents and birds coming into the community to scavenge in the trash, along with the potential new odors and new traffic that he said could have hurt business for all members of the Bridesburg Business Association.

State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) also battled the proposal for some time.

While Taylor didn’t return calls for comment last week, in the past, Paul Kaiser, the recently retired spokesman for Taylor’s office, said the neighborhood has grown and changed so much, especially with new residential units, that the proposal could have adversely affected the community.

Levin said that was a concern of his as well, as was the fact that the land could be put to better use.

“That land is already a mess,” he said of the current condition of the Conrail-owned site. Currently, he said, plants and weeds in the lot are almost 15 feet tall.

“We’ve been here 30 years and for all that time, it’s been the same. I’d really like to see them come in and clean it up,” he said. “It’s a unique piece of land … Ideally, I’d like to see it become a park or something.”

Reporter Hayden Mitman can be reached at 215–354–3124 or hmitman@bsmphilly.com

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