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Residents concerned with wastewater treatment facility trying to move to Menomonee Falls

Jan. 21, 2014

Menomonee Falls — The proposed relocation of an environmental services company's industrial wastewater processing plant into Menomonee Falls drew large crowds at a meeting Monday.

An agenda item during a Village Board meeting on Chemworks' proposed occupancy of a vacant building within an area zoned for heavy industrial use drew so many people that a makeshift overflow seating area with a live feed of the board meeting had to be created to accommodate everyone.

In the Village Board chambers, a few residents were allowed to speak. Others held signs in opposition of the plans. A petition with upwards of one thousand signatures was presented to the board at one point, to thunderous applause from the audience.

In August, Advanced Waste Services, parent company of Chemworks, was given an occupancy permit — a maneuver that essentially gave the company the approval to begin renovating the former concrete block manufacturing plant that sits on a 21.6-acre site at W140 N5998 Lilly Road.

Since the permit was issued, concerns have arisen as reports have surfaced about odor complaints at Chemworks' existing facility on Milwaukee's west side. Nearby residents complained to Milwaukee officials about odors that allegedly caused some people to feel ill.

Also, Advanced Waste Systems has paid $11,475 in fines to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District for 24 separate violations, stemming from incidents that took place between 2007 and 2012.

The small handful of residents who did speak at the beginning of Monday's meeting implored officials to take action and derail Chemworks' plans for the site, which abuts a residential neighborhood.

"If Chemworks is allowed to reside and operate in a proposed building on Lily Road, my wife and I will surely remember, come election time," resident Bill Meindl said.

Chemworks representatives were not in attendance at Monday's meeting. But a statement from Mike Malatesta, president of Advanced Waste Services, was read aloud and put into the record.

"If I had only heard about my company as it's been portrayed thus far, I would have these same concerns," Malatesta said in his statement. "However, the company you've heard about couldn't be further from who we really are."

Malatesta said two public meetings have been planned Jan. 30 in an effort to "begin a dialogue with the community about our company and our operations."

The Village Board did not take any action Monday and will not make a final determination on Chemworks' proposed operations plan. Instead, the Plan Commission will deliberate on the specifics at a series of meetings, the first anticipated in late February.

While Chemworks' staff can continue making alterations to the building in accordance with the already issued occupancy permit, Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald said the actual wastewater processing would not take place until proper approvals were granted.

"There will be no operations or processing on this site until a decision is made," Fitzgerald said. "We will be well into March before this is resolved."

Plans call for the Plan Commission to hold its meetings in a forum outside of the board's chambers because of the large crowds anticipated at the meetings. Commissioners will be taking public input.

"We want a forum where everyone who wants to be heard can be heard," Trustee Stephen Raymonds said.

While the Village Board is not explicitly involved in the final determination because of the powers granted to the Plan Commission through village code, Trustee Sharon Ellis said the board is committed to working with residents in an attempt to reach a positive outcome.

"We would much rather work with you because we are taxpayers as well," Ellis said. "Please know that our best intent is to work with you."

FYI

WHAT: Chemoworks staff will hold public information meetings on their proposed relocation plans into Menomonee Falls

WHEN: 2 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30

WHERE: Davians Conference Center, W16300 Silver Spring Drive

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