Providence Mayor Opposes Waste Facility After City Planner’s Unfavorable Recommendation
March 3, 2020
PROVIDENCE — As expected, Mayor Jorge Elorza has announced his opposition to the waste-processing and transfer facility proposed for a brownfield on Allens Avenue.
“It is clear to me that the proposed facility is neither good for the neighborhood nor allowed by our Zoning Ordinance,” Elorza said in a written statement.
The mayor’s March 3 announcement was issued soon after the city’s planning and development deputy director, Robert Azar, recommended that the City Plan Commission reject the project, which is on the commission’s March 17 meeting agenda.
Azar and Elorza referred to a local regulation that only allows the state or city to operate a waste transfer station — a fact discovered by former City Council member Sam Zurier. The rule, he said during a Feb. 19 community meeting organized by opposition groups, could end up killing the project.
Azar’s review of the site plan by the developer 487 Allens LLC and its owner William Thibeault of Everett, Mass., found that the facility complied with the city’s master plan and environmental rules for the lower South Providence neighborhood, but “because the proposed facility will not be operated by or for a state or municipal agency, it is not permitted in the M-2 zone … the proposed use is not permitted on this site, or in any zone of the city.”
Neighborhood opposition to the protect, proposed for a 3.9-acre lot at the corner of Allens and Thurbers avenues next to Interstate 95, was swift and loud. Community and environmental groups protested during a City Plan Commission meeting in January. Opponents gained support from City Council members and the General Assembly. On Feb. 29, opponents canvased neighborhoods in South Providence and Washington Park to raise awareness about air pollution, traffic, noise, and other health concerns associated with the project.
From the start, local residents, businesses, and institutions, such as the Meeting Street educational center, spoke out against the proposal.
Linda Perri, of the Washington Park Association, organized several of the opposition events. She sees the latest development as a “win for our community and hopefully the beginning of good clean development here on the South Side.”
She is urging residents to attend the City Plan Commission meeting on March 17 to make sure the proposal is defeated.
And with Elorza’s announcement, approval seems unlikely.
“Given the facts presented and the negative impact this project could have on the surrounding community, we know that this project is not a good fit legally or logically,” Elorza said. “I am prepared to issue a letter of non-compliance to the Department of Environmental Management, with City Council approval, at the appropriate time.”
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