2017-08-09 / News

DEQ conducts review of Lapeer Twp. composting operation

Updated site plan expected next month
BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER TWP. — Officials from the company behind a composting facility in Lapeer Township expect to bring an updated site plan to local officials in September, and already have met on site with representatives from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

Brent Bodnar, environmental engineer, water resources division,

MDEQ, confirmed “several DEQ staff” visited the site at 190 W. Newark Rd. (at M-24, see map below) on July 19.

Bodnar said the visit was at the request of Sterling Heightsbased GFL Environmental USA Inc., the company that told The County Press last month that the plan is to ship compost from across southeast Michigan to the site. After processing, the compost would be sold to The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (NTH Consultants, working on behalf of GFL, also was part of the DEQ meeting, Bodnar said.)

“GFL explained how they recently took over the site’s operations from Newark Aggregates, which includes composting and gravel mining,” Bodnar said. “DEQ staff, after touring the site, summarized what permits were needed in order to be in compliance with our water programs.”

Bodnar said DEQ officials told GFL they would need a permit “under Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams,” for the mining of sand and gravel, “and a discharge permit, either to surface water (NPDES) or groundwater, is needed for the discharge of compost wastewater and gravel washing wastewater.”

Joe Munem, spokesman for GFL Environmental USA, provided a description of “compost wastewater.”

“Compost wastewater is the run-off from yard clipping piles after a precipitation event that is not absorbed by the material itself,” he said.

“This runoff is collected in two ponds and used as moisture conditioning, an important step to accelerate the composting process. Excess runoff remains in ponds to allow solids settling to occur before it is discharged to Hunters Creek under a NPDES permit issued by MDEQ, which is under development and will include a mandatory water-quality testing program.”

Hunters Creek — which runs through the composting facility’s property — is part of the Flint River Watershed.

Bodnar said the previous owner of the property had never sought any permits from the DEQ.

He said controlling compost wastewater is important because it can carry “some stuff in it that we want to catch before it runs into the creek there.”

Bodnar said compost wastewater in general can contain organics and chemicals like ammonia, sometimes be “brownish” in color, and “can be harmful to nearby surface water.”

“The permit we would issue (in Lapeer Township) would then have limits through testing and things like that,” he said.

Bodnar added that “DEQ, GFL and NTH are currently working together on the application/issuance of these permits.”

GFL Environmental USA began serving 63 communities on July 31 and does not operate any other compositing operations in Michigan, Munem said.

“The Newark site fits GFL’s goals to reduce the cost of composting yard waste, by limiting the total number of trips and miles driven from point-of-origin to the facility,” Munem said in July.

County records show GFL Environmental USA acquired the former site of Newark Aggregate & Landscape Supply Inc. for $3.5 million in a deal that closed June 9.

However, township records indicate the company applied for a Soil Removal Permit Application needed per township ordinance on April 25, and met with Township Supervisor Scott Jarvis and a township engineer on April 13.

About two months later, on June 19, officials from GFL Environmental USA were in front of the Lapeer Township Planning Commission detailing their plans as part of a public hearing held in conjunction with the special land use permit the company seeks.

Munem said GFL has applied for a special land use permit in accordance with Lapeer Township’s Soil Removal Ordinance (Ordinance No. 5).

“The previous owner and site was ‘grandfathered’ and not subject to zoning requirements because the use of the property predates the passage of Lapeer Township’s ordinances/ zoning restrictions,” Munem said with regard to why it was seeking permits for a location that had limited composting operations already.

The plan presented June 19 was identified as being deficient in several capacities.

“GFL Environmental USA Inc. will submit a revised special land use application in early September 2017,” Munem said Monday.

The Lapeer Township Board of Trustees meets next on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Lapeer Township hall, 1500 Morris Rd.

The next Lapeer Township Planning Commission meeting is set for Aug. 21. The following month, the planning commission meets on Sept. 18. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Lapeer Township hall.

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