FORUM: NE Minneapolis up in arms over hazardous waste facility plans

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Whether it’s called an “environmental facility” or hazardous waste “dump,” the Hennepin County Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Center (HHDC) planned for Northeast Minneapolis has created a growing rift between those who want it there and those who don’t. 

The City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County are partners on the proposed project, which will be located in the Holland Neighborhood at 340 27th Ave. NE. This is the site of the former Wheeling Corrugated Steel plant, which closed about five years ago, Ward 1 Council Member Kevin Reich said.

Its primary purpose will be to serve as a collection and temporary storage site for “problem materials,” such as old electronics, and for household hazardous wastes such as paints, oil and pesticides, according to the city.

The HHDC will occupy a new, 26,000-square-foot building. All county residents, who until now have had to take these wastes to Bloomington or Brooklyn Park, will be able to use the in-city service.

FORUM: What do you think? Send us comments, or write an article or commentary for TCDP about the issues. Comments will appear at the bottom of this article, and we’ll link to any articles you write for TCDP on the issue.

The project site will also house a second new space called the Voucher Program Building. The voucher program, which is currently based out of the South Transfer Station (2850 20th Avenue South, Minneapolis), provides a way for residents to dispose of their construction, demolition and clean-up materials. The 22,800-square-foot facility will replace the South Transfer Station site.

Once they’re collected, these construction-related materials will be moved elsewhere, according to the city.

The city council has authorized purchase of the land. Senior Project Manager Paul Miller said Monday they are in the “final steps” of closing the sale, which is expected to be complete by mid-December. Officials estimate the new facilities will be up and running by spring of 2013.

In the meantime, the Holland, Columbia Park, Marshall Terrace and Windom Park neighborhood associations have passed resolutions expressing their opposition to the plan. Some of their concerns include:

  • Process – Some residents feel left out.
  • Traffic/Noise/Odor/Crime – Will this project make the surrounding neighborhoods less safe or livable?
  • Zoning – The area is currently zoned I2. Some residents are concerned the city will seek the I3 zoning classification for the site.
  • Impact on Property Values – How will the project affect the property values of the nearby residences?
  • Proximity to Residences and Businesses – Will this be too close?
  • Environmental Justice – Has Northeast taken its fair share of pollution over the years?

Here are two views, one supporting and one opposing the plan.

 

Opposing Viewpoints

Marie Zeller of the Holland neighborhood opposes the plan:

“…Guidance from the EPA, MPCA and waste management professionals all point to the need for community involvement early in siting, yet the residents and businesses most affected by this project found out from a newspaper reporter that the Council had authorized purchase of the land. There was no public hearing or comment on that decision, and we have been told that there will be no formal public comment until the land has been purchased and the design phase is complete.

“…This facility is being located in one of the most polluted areas of the City, raising real environmental justice concerns in the community. It was our hope to work with the City to transition lands nearby to less intensive uses and to minimize environmental impacts. We feel this project goes in the opposite direction.

“…Local businesses and residents are particularly concerned about the chilling effect a waste facility would have on the restaurants, entertainment venues and arts community. If the first trip some are making to our neighborhood is to drop off toxic materials and garbage, it is unlikely they will see this as a vibrant community where they would come to dine or have fun. Those two things do not mix.” — excerpted from a handout Zeller presented to Windom Park Citizens in Action on Nov. 16

Mark Snyder of Windom Park, supports the plan:

“…All they’re doing is accepting stuff from our garages and basements, packing it into bulk containers and then sending it away. If anything, it’s going to reduce the amount of toxic materials in our neighborhood by making it easier for people to clean out said garages and basements instead [of] letting stuff pile up for months or years until a trip to Bloomington is justified. Or worse, throwing toxic materials in their garbage to be burned at the downtown incinerator (HERC), sending their emissions right over our neighborhoods.

“I really don’t understand how anyone can see either of these two situations as being better than having this facility?

“Also, can someone explain to me exactly what the big deal is about this facility replacing South Transfer Station? Do you know what kind of stuff gets taken there? Old appliances, old furniture that’s busted or otherwise not in good enough shape to donate, construction debris like sheetrock and wood framing and stuff like that. I took a bunch of metal fence posts there a number of years ago after removing the fence around my yard because it would have been too hard to bust off the cement that had been poured around them when they were sunk. Why are people afraid of this?”  — excerpted from Snyder’s Nov. 8 post on E-Democracy

 

Here are links to two E-Democracy discussion threads:

Enviornmental Injustice in Northeast Minneapolis

Minneapolis Hazardous Waste Facility