Proposed location of new transfer station in Spanish Fork causes some controversy

December 6, 2018

Brandon Anderson opens the door to the hazardous waste building at the South Utah Valley Solid Waste District in Springville on Friday, April 7, 2017. Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day will be happening Saturday all over Utah County. SAMMY JO HESTER, Daily Herald

A proposed new location for a transfer station in Spanish Fork is causing controversy with surrounding landowners.

The South Utah Valley Solid Waste District, which operates the current transfer station in Springville, has been looking for a new location for an updated and expanded transfer station for about five years now, said Terry Ficklin, SUVSWD general manager. The proposed site, just off Spanish Fork Main Street north of the Utah County Jail, is about three-quarters of a mile from the existing transfer station in Springville.

All trash from Provo, Springville, Spanish Fork, Mapleton, Salem, Goshen and Woodland Hills goes first to the transfer station, where it is sorted before being hauled to the dump. Items that can not go in a landfill, like batteries, light bulbs or pesticides, are sorted out and taken to appropriate facilities, while everything else ends up in the Bayview Landfill in Elberta.

“A lot of people think we are the same as a dump,” Ficklin said. “We are nothing like it.”

But Greg Amaral, a property owner who owns multiple commercial buildings in close proximity to the proposed new site disagrees, and voiced concerns that a transfer station in that area will affect his property values and his ability to lease out his buildings.

“I realize the transfer station has to go somewhere,” Amaral said. “But put it in an area where you have lower impacts.”

Stanford Bell, a Salt Lake City attorney representing Amaral and other landowners in the area, wrote in a letter to the Planning Commission stating that his client could suffer a significant financial loss should the transfer station be built in the proposed location.

“Since the city started entertaining the notion of a waste station, my clients have already had multiple tenants ask to be released from their leases,” Bell wrote in the letter. “This is not a hypothetical argument. It is a fact. Putting a waste transfer station on Main Street will drive away businesses.”

Several nearby businesses and property owners, including Young Living, voiced concerns about everything from excess traffic that would be caused by placing a transfer station there, to planning around the vision of what Main Street should look like in 20 years.

“If I had a choice, would I put a business near a waste transfer station?” Bell asked the Planning Commission on Wednesday.

Others questioned why the transfer station can’t expand on its current acreate in Springville, which is larger than the Spanish Fork acreage the zone change is for.

A representative of a landowner near the proposed site told the commission there was “nothing good” about having a transfer station near their residential properties, estimating that the station could drop surrounding property values by as much as 20 percent.

The current transfer station is about 8,000 square feet, while the proposed new facility would be about 80,000 with a high-tech odor and ventilation system, estimated to cost between $17 and $25 million. The reason it would be so much bigger is because newly designed transfer stations are essentially large warehouse buildings, where all the sorting and loading happens inside, Ficklin said.

Trash is not stored at the facility, and typically only stays there for a few hours, Ficklin said.

On Wednesday night, the proposed station came before the Spanish Fork Planning Commission, an advisory board to the City Council. SUVSWD was requesting a zone change from an industrial zone to a public utilities zone in order to build the new transfer station a few hundred feet north of the Utah County Jail. SUVSWD currently has an option to buy that property.

Currently, the closest business is a little over a quarter mile from the proposed build site, said Dave Anderson, Spanish Fork city planner and economic development director, though it is anticipated that over time more businesses would build even closer. Anderson said the Cracker Barrel in Springville is closer to the existing transfer station than any current businesses in Spanish Fork would be to the proposed location.

Bell called the transfer station a “necessary evil,” but suggested it be located west of Main Street where a waste transfer station would be “better suited.”

He cited a study from the University of New Mexico, which found a nearly 18 percent impact on the average value of land adjacent to a transfer station.

Anderson said it’s a concern to make sure nothing happens that will be a deterrent for current or future property owners to locate in the area.

“We hope people learn more about what it might look like and how it might operate,” Anderson said.

Planning Commissioner Kevin Oyler voiced several concerns and questions he wanted answered, including traffic issues and why the current transfer facility could not expand at its current location.

When the same issue came before the Planning Commission last month, Planning Commissioner Richard Davis said the questions that made them postpone the vote were figuring out concerns about impacts such as odor to those surrounding.

Davis was among two planning commissioners and several council members and city officials who took a trip to Seattle to tour a state-of-the-art transfer facility.

Seeing the transfer station in Seattle made a difference, Davis said, as he saw efforts they take to reduce odor and impact.

Stores and restaurants had built all around the Seattle transfer station and don’t seem to mind it, Davis said.

The Planning Commission ended up voting to recommend the zone change to the City Council.

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