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Mayor Elorza comes out against proposed Port garbage transfer station



It is clear to me that the proposed facility is neither good for the neighborhood nor allowed by our Zoning Ordinance,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Given the facts presented and the negative impact this project could have on the surrounding community, we know that this project is not a good fit legally or logically. I am prepared to issue a letter of non-compliance to the Department of Environmental Management, with City Council Approval, at the appropriate time.”

[NOTE: A previous version of this report inaccurately stated that the Providence City Planning Commission (CPC) had come out against the transfer station. This was an error. The report was prepared by Providence CPC staff, and the Providence CPC will take up the issue on March 17. UpriseRI regrets the error.]

The Providence City Plan Commission (CPC) issued a staff report on February 27 declaring that the commission should “deny the master plan, finding it not in compliance with the zoning ordinance.” Elorza based his opinion on this report.

The CPC staff report notes that the the future land use map of Providence Tomorrow: The Comprehensive Plan designates as Business/Mixed Use, but also notes that the plan “speaks to issues of environmental justice and equitable distribution of undesirable land uses,” adding that one of the plan’s objectives is to “Ensure that industrial, biomedical and other scientific research facilities conform to federal and state environmental, health and safety regulations.”

“It is not clear that the proposed project meets these provisions,” says the report.

Further, the report picks up on a point first publicly stated by former Ward 2 Providence City Councilmember Samuel Zurier, who noted that a transfer station would only be permitted if it was to serve a municipal or state purpose. The proposed transfer station is a for profit business that would import garbage from out of state.

The report states:

“The site is zoned M-2. The proposed use is a solid waste transfer station. The only mention of this use in the ordinance is within the use category called Incinerator/Waste Facility, defined as ‘a facility for the incineration and/or processing of waste, including sewage disposal facilities or solid waste transfer station, operated by or for a state or municipal agency.’ Because the proposed facility will not be operated by or for a state or municipal agency, it is not permitted in the M-2 zone. Also, the proposed use does not fit into any other category within the use matrix of the zoning ordinance. Therefore, per 1200.F.1, which states, ‘any use that is not included in the use matrix is prohibited in all districts,’ the proposed use is not permitted on this site, or in any zone in the city.”

The City Plan Commission will be taking up the proposed transfer station at their March 17 meeting, held at 4:45pm at 444 Westminster St in Providence.

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.