‘Junkyard’ opponents organize

Published 10:43 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

Three weeks after the Suffolk Planning Commission instructed the owner of a proposed recycling center in Saratoga to meet with the members of the community, such a meeting still has not occurred.

“That’s what they were supposed to have done this past Tuesday, but they didn’t show up,” said the Rev. Wayne Mitchell, president of the Saratoga/Philadelphia Civic League. “They called me and said that they won’t be ready. He didn’t have anything to bring us at this time.”

Dozens of nearby residents turned up at the commission’s April meeting to protest the recycling center proposed by Mid Atlantic Recycling Solutions, which they say will amount to nothing more than a junkyard.

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Mid Atlantic Recycling Solutions hopes to run a center that would accept scrap metals like steel, cast iron, copper and aluminum for recycling. Once the materials come in, they would be sorted and packed into containers, and immediately shipped to larger centers outside the city where they would be reduced to raw materials and transformed into other products.

The business would employ eight to 10 people, Marc McPherson of Mid Atlantic Recycling Solutions said at last month’s meeting. He anticipates 30 to 40 customers per day.

The site, located at 425 S. Saratoga St., is surrounded by a chain-link and barbed-wire fence with several “No Trespassing” signs. Plants are growing haphazardly up the fence, and trash is strewn around the perimeter of the lot.

The site used to be a prison camp, and also was formerly a junkyard that brought rodents, snakes, noise and heavy truck traffic to the neighborhood, longtime residents say.

“The rats were huge,” Mitchell said at the site Friday.

Nearby homeowners fear the new “recycling center” would be the same type of operation, though McPherson says it would not.

“I know what it was,” McPherson said at last month’s meeting. “I know how the other companies ran it. What I do is just different.”

McPherson promised at the April meeting that materials would be stored no more than 24 hours before they are shipped, but that did not appease the property’s neighbors — or Planning Commissioner William Goodman.

“I feel the people in that community have really endured a hardship,” Goodman said in the April meeting. “You can call it recycling if you want to. It’s a junkyard. I can’t support it.”

The commission instructed McPherson to meet with community members within 30 days to allay their concerns, and tabled the conditional use permit for one month. That meeting was to have occurred on Tuesday, but McPherson didn’t come. Roughly 150 members of the community came, though, and voted unanimously to oppose the center.

“Everybody that was there said that they do not want it in that area, whether it be recycling or whatever,” Mitchell said.

The matter comes up again on the Planning Commission agenda on May 18. Mitchell plans to have dozens of community members in attendance again.

“We’ve got to stay on the fight,” Mitchell said. “It’s not over.”