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LOCKPORT – Auto dealer Charles Heinrich sees opportunity in the anticipated closure of the Niagara County construction and demolition debris landfill.

Heinrich went before the city Planning Board on Monday with a proposal to erect a building material recycling facility on Oakhurst Street.

The board did not act on the request and said it was willing to continue the discussion at a special meeting, which also would constitute a public hearing, at a later date.

The Planning Board’s approval is only one of many hoops Heinrich would have to jump through to make Lockport Recycling Center a reality.

The Common Council would need to approve a special-use permit; the Building Inspection Department would have to issue an operational permit; and the state Department of Environmental Conservation would have to grant stormwater control and operational permits. The latter would be considered under the same regulatory section as landfill permits.

Keith Pellerin of EnSol Environmental Solutions, a Niagara Falls firm that drew up the plans, said Heinrich already operates a business called Heinrich Services, which involves the rental of roll-off containers.

“In the light of the county closing their landfill, he sees a business opportunity,” John Battaglia of EnSol told the board.

“Why would you build this in the city?” asked Howard Luff, a Planning Board member. “Why not build it out in the country somewhere?”

The 16.7-acre site is zoned for heavy industry, and Battaglia said that made it attractive, as well as the fact that Oakhurst Street is “an area that’s already got truck traffic and industrial-type activity.”

Also, Pellerin said, Lockport figures to be an area with plenty of debris to handle after the county construction and demolition, or C&D, landfill shuts down.

County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz recommended that move last June, although it didn’t become public knowledge until October. The County Legislature is considering the shutdown of the Refuse Disposal District’s last active landfill, on the Lockport Bypass, less than a mile from Heinrich’s site.

Pellerin said the Oakhurst Street plan would be constructed in two phases. The first would include only an unloading and sorting ramp and a scale house. Phase 2 would include a 100-by-100-foot building, 35 feet high.

“This material will sit on a concrete floor or in a truck,” Battaglia said.

Pellerin said no material processing is planned on the Oakhurst Street site; the recycling would take place elsewhere, and materials that can’t be reused would be shipped to cogeneration power plants for burning.

He said that although only one acre of the 16.7 is to be used, no changes in plans would be allowed without state permission.

Planning Board member David C. Chamberlain was worried that hazardous materials might be found in the debris and that the storage containers might not prevent material from blowing away on windy days.

Board member Donald Swanson said, “I believe some of that material being trucked to that C&D landfill is hazardous material, whether they know it or not.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com