Neighbors complain of odor, noise and bugs from Warren recycling center

WARREN — Residents living around the  Northeast Ohio Automated Recycling Center have filed complaints with the city’s Heath Department, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the solid waste district about odors, noise and infestation of insects coming into their homes.

Neighbors Miles Cuckovich and Jim Kreps, whose properties sit on the edge of the recycling center, each have spoken to Robert Pinti, Warren’s  deputy health commissioner, about the noise coming from the facility as early as 4:30 a.m., as trucks arrive with heavy roll-off  containers.

“When the trucks drop off the containers, they make crashing sounds,” Kreps said.  “Even if they are in the building  it can be heard.

“They have trucks turn around in its driveway and their lights shine right into my bedroom window,” Kreps said. “When they open the doors, the smell of the garbage fills the air around my house.”

The center at 1400 Front St. SW does not begin taking garbage into the facility until 6 a.m. each day, according to founder Tony Grech of Howland.

The center is designed to be a low-odor facility, Grech said.

“We do not begin working until 7 a.m.,” he said.  “The area is zoned commercial, so they should expect to have some truck traffic.”

Cuckovich, 86, 1336 Front St., and Kreps, 75, 188 Austin Ave. SW, both said the odor from the facility makes it difficult. Kreps wears a mask whenever he works in the yard and Cuckovich has placed tarps and plastic around his rear patio to reduce the odors.

“It has helped,” Cuckovich said. “The smell is not as bad as it was before I put this up. It is especially strong when the winds are coming from the north and from the northwest direction, and its doors are open.

Cuckovich recently spent more than $140 to have his home treated for insects because there has been an increased number in his home since the center opened.

“People should not have to live like this,” Cuckovich said.

“It has been suggested that the company might want to buy the homes of  some people around it,” Cuckovich said. “I am in my 80s.  My wife recently had a stroke.  We don’t want to sell our home and move.”

Kreps said the only thing he would like to see is the plant closed or moved to a less-residential area.

“I was against this when they first began putting it here,” he said.

Mike Keith, 1357 Front St. SW, agrees the odor from the company is obnoxious, but says his main concern is the increase in the number of rodents he has seen around his mother’s house.

“I’ve seen small mice and rats going into cracks under the house,” he said. “I’ve seen larger rats digging holes around trees and under dog houses.  We’ve never had this problem before the plant opened.”

Eva and Cory Clark, 1365 Front St. SW, said the complaints about the company are overblown. The Clarks live in a small ranch-style home  directly across  from the company.

“You don’t really smell anything,” Eva Clark said.

Both of the Clarks have gotten jobs at the company since it opened.  Eva has worked there for three months, and Cory has been with the company for just under a month.

“They are nice people,” Eva Clark said.

Corey Davis, 1409 Front St. SW., said he has several relatives working in the recycling plant.

“I’m a home owner, and my mom has lived in this neighborhood for years, and the company has not made it worse,”  he said. “They are creating jobs.  The company has reduced homelessness.  It is a good thing that they are doing.”

Discussions about placing the facility in the city began in 2012.  There were several community meetings at which residents were able to express their concerns about the plant being place in the low to middle income southwest side neighborhood.

The facility sorts and bale recyclable components consisting of cardboard, paper, plastics, aluminum and ferrous metals from daily mixed waste and single stream sources for sale to world markets through a global commodity broker.

The center does not recycle or handle any hazardous waste.

Grech said the doors of the facility are only open when trucks are entering of leaving the facility, so the amount of odor coming from it should be minimal.

“After the noon hour, we are processing only paper and plastic items, so there should be no odor during that time,” he said. “We are sorting during the night.”

Robert Pinti, Warren’s deputy health commissioner, said the company has a six-month window to remove a certain level of recyclables from the waste stream.

“Since the company began on June 1, it is coming up to the end of the period which it will be judged by the Ohio EPA on whether it is removing sufficient recylables,” Pinti said.  “The EPA has been monitoring what has been going in and coming out of the facility.”

In the meantime, the city’s health department has been sending sanitarians in and around the plant to monitor odors.

“We have gone out there and there has been a slight odor,” Pinti said. “It is strongest when they open the doors.”

Pinti said the trash should be in the facility no longer than 24 hours.

“it is a quick turnaround,” he said.

Grech said since Jan.1, the company has invested about $8.9 million into the facility and it now has about 57 workers.

“The majority of the jobs are held by area residents and most are able to walk to the job,” Grech said.

Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, D-6th Ward, said she spoke to Mr. Grech on Friday about a odor complaint.

“I thought the odor were coming from the steel mill,” Saffold said. “There is a lot of pollution that come from the mill.”

Saffold said she plans to call the Ohio EPA to see what is being done to monitor the plant and address resident concerns.

“Mr. Grech did keep a promise he made to me about giving Sixth Ward residents a priority in  hiring,” Saffold said.

Residents who are having problems with rodents should contact the health department, Pinti said.

“We will bait around their properties,” Pinti said. “We are one of a few city health departments that still provides that service.”