Drive along the northern edge of Chandler’s Tumbleweed Park and it’s easy to see why city officials and neighboring residents are fighting to stop a private trash transfer station just to the west on Germann Road.
Chandler is spending millions of dollars to develop Tumbleweed as its premier outdoor recreation complex, a communitywide and regional attraction that already hosts such prominent events as the annual Ostrich Festival. We expect any American city would be uncomfortable with the idea of a 24-hour facility nearby with the potential noise and traffic of a good-sized industrial business and the potential smells of a trash heap.
Still, we have to wonder if karma or a cosmic sense of irony has led Chandler to this pass, given the city’s recent hostile attitude toward sound garbage disposal policies and a willingness to dump its problems onto other communities.
For years, Chandler had planned to convert the city landfill a couple of miles away that was at the end of its lifespan into a transfer station where garbage would have been removed from regular trash trucks, compacted and loaded in semitractors to be hauled to a more distant site for burial. But neighboring residents complained they were unaware of this intended conversion and demanded that Chandler replace the landfill with a park instead.
The City Council not only surrendered to public pressure on this site, but scrapped all plans for building a new transfer station.
That meant Waste Management, the city’s private trash hauler, must drive its garbage trucks to transfer stations and landfills quite some distance from Chandler. This is pushing garbage fees higher for all Chandler residents (not just those living near the closed landfill), and requires many more driving miles using streets and roads of other communities as well as creating more air pollution.
Along comes Allied Waste, another private trash company that would like to build its own transfer station to properly manage its regional activities. But finding a good location in the increasingly crowded East Valley is extremely difficult. Cities are reserving their remaining street corridors for apartments, condos, retail shopping, entertainment or office employment, not the type of warehouse/manufacturing clusters that would be appropriate for a transfer station. Neighbors always protest loudly against this type of project, so getting a zoning change would be nearly impossible.
One rare spot with the correct zoning and land use happens to be a 11-acre site in a county island practically across the street from Tumbleweed Park. But Allied Waste still must obtain a special-use permit from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to consider the issue in May.
The Chandler City Council has formally, and strongly, objected to Allied Waste’s application. Tribune writer Chris Markham reported Tuesday that City Councilman Bob Caccamo wants to forbid semi-tractors from using Germann Road in front of the proposed transfer station, just in case the county ignores the city’s wishes.
Meanwhile, we don’t hear Caccamo or anyone else on the City Council offering to help find alternative locations within their city; nor do they appear to be working with other communities to address what clearly is a regional problem.
The board of supervisors should weigh that as well when it votes on Allied Waste’s proposal.