Wyre Wheel seeks O.K. for large shredder

MIDDLEBURY — New England Quality Service LLC (NEQS) is seeking zoning permission to acquire a large metal shredding device for use at its Wyre Wheel location at 4079 Route 7 south.

The shredder, according to company officials, will allow NEQS to recycle metal debris — including cars and washing machines — more quickly and efficiently.

Neighbors, meanwhile, told the Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) on Monday that they want to make sure the new equipment doesn’t bring more noise and traffic to the area.

“(NEQS) has been a very good neighbor, but I am concerned about noise and property values,” said Lou Nop, who lives to the south of the property.

NEQS, also known as Earth Waste Systems, has been in the business of metal waste recycling, demolition and salvage services throughout northern New England, upstate New York and central Tennessee since 1989. The business’s activities include breaking down and recycling junked autos and recycling the metal and parts for sales in domestic and foreign markets.

NEQS has long operated the Wyre Wheel location off Route 7 and this past March announced plans to acquire the former Monahan Filaments property at 3046 Case St. to eventually employ up to 30 people to disassemble vehicles and other metal equipment and sell the reusable parts.

Company officials previously proposed acquiring a metal shredder for its Route 7 south location back in the summer of 2008. But Middlebury at that point had a machinery and equipment tax, which would have penalized the company for making such a hefty purchase. Middlebury voters subsequently agreed to phase out the M&E tax, making the purchase of a shredder more viable for the company.

Long Trail Engineering CEO Franklin Parent said the proposed shredder and related equipment would occupy a roughly 2-acre footprint at the rear of the NEQS property.

“It’s not going to change the business at the site, it’s just going to slightly change the operation of how they handle the materials,” Parent told the DRB. “It allows the company to process the material in a much more efficient manner.”

Tin crushers, mobile shears, balers and other equipment at the Wyre Wheel site currently process material at “one-tenth of the efficiency” of the proposed shredder, according to Earth Waste Systems President Kevin Elnicki.

“Right now, the equipment is at full tilt,” Elnicki said. “The bailer runs from the morning through the end of the night, every day.”

Elnicki noted the shredder would be able to process a car in 30 seconds. The Wyre Wheel site currently receives six to 12 cars per day, with some light iron, washing machines, dryers and roofing tin added to the list.

“The equipment we have right now isn’t keeping up with the volume,” he said.

The proposed shredder would be equipped with a 2,500-horsepower engine, according to Parent. Noise generated at the Wyre Wheel site will involve the handling material, the shredding process and removal of the shredded product — eventually to the former Monahan Filaments building for further sorting.

Material fed into the shredding machine would be separated into initial metal and non-metal piles.

“It’s like screening topsoil. You get a topsoil pile, a gravel pile and a boulder pile,” Parent said.

Existing noise related to material handling at the site registers about 79 decibels at 100 feet, according to Parent. Shredder noise is anticipated to be around 85 decibels at 100 feet, while the removal of materials is expected to generate around 87 decibels per 100 feet.

By comparison, Parent said a dial tone level can register 80 decibels and a snow machine can register 100 decibels. Noise from the shredder should be less invasive than a chainsaw, wood chipper or lawn mower, according to Elnicki.

The shredder would be located within about 400 feet from the nearest home to the north and around 650 feet from the nearest home to the south.

NEQS officials said the shredder would not operate continuously throughout the day; rather, it would be switched on when there are enough materials to warrant switching it on, according to Parent.

Elnicki said under current load demands, the shredder would operate at about 50-percent capacity, processing around 2,500 to 3,500 tons of material per month.

Elnicki added the proposed shredder would be able to handle up to a three-quarter-ton car.

Industry trends call for NEQS to hand less material than in recent years, according to Elnicki.

“When we first opened the Wyre Wheel, we got inundated with material,” Elnicki said. “As the farms and different people have cleaned up, the market has been steady and good. Material has been cleaned up from everywhere. You’ll have your basic 1.3 tons per person per year of material.”

Representatives of NEQS said they don’t anticipate running the shredder on Saturdays, but want to keep that as an option.

A handful of neighbors listened intently to the NEQS presentation. They said noise from the Wyre Wheel has this far been tolerable, but were concerned that a shredder could pump up the volume. Elnicki said there are currently no other shredders of similar size currently operating in Vermont, meaning a field trip to hear one would be difficult.

The DRB has decided to conduct a site visit at the Wyre Wheel property on Dec. 9 at 10 a.m. to gauge current noise levels. NEQS must obtain a conditional use permit from the town to operate the shredder in what is a rural-agricultural-residential zone. The DRB could place conditions on that permit, such as requiring NEQS to install berms, vegetation and/or other sound deadening devices.

 “I think we’ve got to be careful on the impact on the neighbors,” said DRB member Howard Skip Brush.

Brush added, “I think it’s your responsibility to prove to us” that the shredder won’t make noise conditions worse than they currently are for neighbors.

“We would do whatever it takes to keep the neighbors happy,” Elnicki replied.

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]

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