By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The problems created when industrial and residential neighborhoods sit side by side is playing out in the long-running Trans-Load America/Pond View saga.
In the latest episode of the 15-year struggle, the City Council recently voted 3-2 in favor of moving forward with appealing a recent Superior Court decision, which said the Zoning Board couldn't put limits on the amount of material the TLA/Pond View recycling facility on Dexter Road processes.
According to residents of the Rumford neighborhood, the problems began in 1998, after Ken Foley bought the land and opened the recycling facility.
At the Aug. 20 council meeting, a dozen residents complained of dust, respiratory ailments, noise and ground shaking caused by the facility, while noting that the type and volume of materials has increased during the past 15 years.
Foley claimed the facility has never had a health violation and that the noise and activity is within the law. “I’m not going to take this lying down. I’m going to fight back. I have to,” Foley said before the council voted against him.
Several of Foley's supporters said the fight against TLA/Pond View is a witch hunt and a waste of taxpayer money.
TLA/Pond View went to into bankruptcy last year, but the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) awarded cleanup of the site to Foley. He now is reportedly running a metal processing business at One Dexter Road.
Residents say the recent activity is creating more health problems and making it difficult to go outdoors. “We’re basically being tortured over there,” said Ken Schneider, co-president of the East Providence Coalition, the neighborhood group fighting TLA/Pond View’s activities.
DEM inspectors have visited the facility almost daily since June 4, with no violations reported. There are no reports of toxic waste or other hazards at the site. “There is no evidence of a public health emergency being posed by this site,” according to the DEM website.
The latest activities on the site, which have triggered many complaints from area residents, aren't overseen by DEM, the state agency said.
Schneider said the decision by council is a victory for the residents of Rumford, but the matter is far from settled. "It's gotta end someday," he said.