SALEM — Mayor Kim Driscoll’s plan to clean up the polluted transfer station on Swampscott Road suffered a major setback yesterday when a judge overturned a decision by a city board.
Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead threw out a 2009 ruling by the Salem Board of Health, which approved an agreement between the city and its trash hauler, Northside Carting, that would have allowed for a significant expansion of the transfer station.
In exchange for Northside Carting’s pledge to clean up the old incinerator site, the city agreed to allow the average daily amount of material trucked there to increase from 100 to 400 tons, with a maximum of 500 tons on peak days.
The deal also called for demolition of the existing transfer station building and construction of a new facility.
The judge’s decision appeared to rest on the application process.
The Board of Health approved a request for a “minor modification” of a permit for the transfer station. Whitehead ruled that the city and trash company should have applied for a “major modification,” which would have triggered a lengthier review, because this was a significant expansion requiring a new building.
Not long after the health board’s decision, an appeal was filed by a group of neighbors, headed by Arthur Theophilopoulos, owner of Young World Academy, a day care center and preschool. They raised concerns about the increased truck traffic and the expansion of the waste transfer business.
The transfer station currently handles construction and demolition debris. Under the new agreement, it would have been able to bring in municipal waste from area communities.
“I think this is a victory for the public health and a victory for homeowners and businesses in the area,” said Carl Goodman, the lawyer for the plaintiffs. “Had this facility been expanded as planned, it would have had a significant and adverse impact on their property values.