By Jenna-Lee Neff

A recent Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting unanimously approved an industrial zoning change for the proposed site of a waste transfer station in northwest Peoria. The decision came as a blow to many concerned locals who have spent two years opposing the site.

The decision came at the end of a two-hour hearing and discussion that included public input for and against the rezoning of the 10-acre site. The approval marks the end of an ongoing battle between many residents in the local community and Republic Services to keep the waste transfer station out of the area.

“I am opposed for three reasons: health, environment and property values,” says Robert Baxter, who identified himself as a member of the Crossriver HOA. “It is morally and ethically irresponsible to place this kind of facility so close to a residential area. The wind contamination, dust and appearance will be unacceptable.”

According to Stephen Anderson, an attorney with the Phoenix-based firm Gammage & Burnham who represents the developer, the transfer station building will be one of the smallest among the 32 existing stations in Maricopa County. He also discussed features to mitigate negative effects on the local community. These include: having all loads tarped with transfers only taking place inside the building, the building being closed on three sides, and misters that will help keep odor down and reduce the risk of fire.

Supervisor Clint Hickman, who represents the area where the proposed facility will be built, addressed general concerns that the rezoning of the parcel from IND-2 to IND-3 will set a precedent for other heavy industrial projects in the area. “That’s not going to fly with me,” Hickman says. “I want to let everybody know that because that’s what happens sometimes. You put something there and then it grows into something else that residents further and further do not want to see, and they use that as a magnet. That’s not going to be; that’s not in my thought pattern.”
The project has received a large amount of pushback since the initial announcement in early 2020, including a Facebook group called “Happy Valley Says NO to a Waste Transfer Station” that has accumulated more than 4,300 members. Local homeowners have expressed concerns about noise, odor, property values and public health in their arguments about bringing a waste transfer station to the area.

Community feedback led Republic Services to abandon plans for the first proposed site in late 2020 before announcing their intention to build in the industrial area near El Mirage Road and Loop 303 in February 2021.

According to Maricopa County’s planning and development director Tom Ellsworth, the county has received approximately 8,000 letters, petitions, and emails regarding the site – with about 5,900 in opposition and about 1,800 in support.

The meeting was only for the approval of the rezoning of the parcel. Republic Services still has to submit specific plans for the development of the waste transfer station for future approval along with infrastructure improvement plans. Approval of the zoning change was based on a list of conditions that will have to be adhered to before and during the operation of the station.

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