Recent discussions concerning the integration of the a recycling facility into the Bergen County District Solid Waste Management plan have spurred a whirlwind of questions and concerns from Oakland residents. The facility, which processes concrete, asphalt, red bricks, and concrete blocks, faced scrutiny over its potential environmental and traffic impacts.
At the heart of the controversy is the location of the facility on West Oakland Avenue in Oakland, New Jersey, in proximity to the Ramapo River and residential areas. Mayor Linda Schwager and other residents raised several concerns, from potential groundwater contamination to noise levels and traffic logistics. The mayor highlighted discrepancies in dates related to the project and questioned the reliance on outdated site plans and surveys, given significant environmental changes that have occurred since then.
Open Materials LLC’s representatives, including Laura Salerno, attempted to assuage concerns by detailing the property’s current status, its intended operations, and the rigorous environmental and regulatory guidelines it would adhere to. They emphasized that the facility would not process or store contaminated materials and that strict regulations would be enforced by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
However, residents countered these assurances with personal experiences and concerns. One engineer resident emphasized the potential risks to Oakland’s well water and the need for heightened scrutiny, while others expressed fears over traffic congestion, especially given Oakland’s existing traffic challenges. The facility’s proposed operating hours also became a focal point, as they could potentially violate the borough’s noise ordinance.
Adding to the myriad of concerns, questions arose about the integrity of local roads due to the heavy weight of incoming trucks, with the largest tri-axle dump trucks carrying up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded.
The council highlighted the meeting’s primary objective – the inclusion of the facility into the Bergen County plan. They clarified that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection would handle any permitting issues. While the public hearing has concluded, the council ensured the community’s voices would be heard by leaving the record open for an additional 30 days for further comments.