Correction: An earlier version of the story described appellant Norman Beko as owner of Earth Systems Pacific. Beko does not own nor he is affiliated with the company.
Some residents and business owners near the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport are worried that a recently approved project for a plant to process green waste and food scraps will lead to odor, traffic, noise and other problems.
Four residents have appealed the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission’s Aug. 25 decision to allow applicant Hitachi Zosen Inova USA, LLC to remodel a 13,128-square-foot warehouse and build a 36,000-square-foot addition at 4388 Old Santa Fe Road. The county Board of Supervisors will consider the appeal Tuesday.
The anaerobic digestion plant would process food and green waste from the Waste Connections service area and then use the methane emitted from the compost to produce energy. It would be the first facility of this type in the U.S., according to the environmental review documents for the project.
“This area is a wind tunnel which will carry odors and noise to local residents,” states the appeal, filed by Norman Beko, a Pismo Beach resident; Mike Kyle, owner of CT International, also on Santa Fe Road; and local residents Paul Rys and Kathy Borland.
I just believe it’s the wrong place. It’s going to be very, very stinky.
Tina Galliani, who lives near the proposed food and green waste processing plant
“This thing is a huge project with a huge impact and we just want an EIR (environmental impact report),” Borland said in a phone interview Thursday. “We need to step back and look at the ramifications.”
Tina Galliani also lives near the planned facility and shares the appellants’ concerns.
“I believe in recycling, I believe in composting,” she said. “I just believe it’s the wrong place. It’s going to be very, very stinky.”
An EIR needs to be prepared when there is substantial evidence that significant environmental effects may occur, according to county planning staff.
Planner Brandi Cummings wrote in a staff report that there’s no evidence that such effects would occur after measures are taken to reduce impacts, including odor and air quality.
According to county planners, the site has been in industrial use since the early 1980s when Trusco Tank, a steel tank manufacturing company, owned and developed the site. Chicago Bridge & Ironworks later purchased it; the property is now used by Waste Connections, which took it over in 2012.
Waste Connections will continue to operate waste hauling, including storing waste containers, haul trucks, and related maintenance.
In response to the appeal, Cummings wrote the project would not include any composting operations. The anaerobic digestion process would take place in an enclosed facility, which would be kept at negative pressure to pull in outside air when the doors open and prevent odors from escaping.
The project is about 1,500 feet from existing homes to the south, according to the environmental review documents for the project.
But with new development proposals “flourishing around the airport area,” including the proposed Avila Ranch project with 720 homes in southern San Luis Obispo, Borland said, it’s especially important to ensure the environmental impacts of the project are identified.
“Absent Board of Supervisors intervention, there will be a never-before-tested-in-the-United-States plant,” she said. “We know that San Luis Obispo County prides itself on its ‘greenness,’ but we can’t be dazzled by new ‘green’ technology so much so that we ignore the fundamentals: air quality, odor, noise and traffic.”
If you go
The appeal is the last item on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors’ agenda for Tuesday, Oct. 18. It will be heard in the board’s afternoon session, which resumes at 1:30 p.m. The supervisors meet at 1055 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo. For more information, go to www.slocounty.ca.gov/bos/BOSagenda.