Cranberry recycling ordinance approved; 3 restrictions added

An ordinance that permits the establishment and operation of a county-wide recycling center was approved Thursday by the Cranberry Township supervisors.

Public pressure, though, put some caveats into the new ordinance.

The recycling center, in the planning stages for more than a year, is pegged for the back portion of a Cranberry School District maintenance building off Route 257.

It is a project launched by the Venango County commissioners and is dependent on whether the county receives a $350,000 state grant to develop and equip the facility. That funding decision should be made this fall.

“The goal was to develop a centralized convenience center for county residents,” said Erik Johnson, the recycling coordinator for the county, at the supervisors’ meeting. “The grant application requires the host community to have a waste recycling ordinance.”

Why the location choice?

Some township residents questioned why Cranberry Township was chosen as the site for the recycling center.

“We chose Cranberry because it is pretty much the commercial mecca … with the big box stores,” said Johnson. “There is a reason for people to come here. And, I hope this (center) would cause more people to come here.”

He added, “We identified Cranberry because of its commercial capacity and potential for growth.”

The building identified as the recycling center site was chosen in large part because of access to Route 257 and the availability of existing loading docks, said Johnson. The county would lease the back portion of the school district’s maintenance building.

Earlier this week, some Cranberry School Board members questioned the choice of location and said no commitment had been made to lease the structure for a recycling center.

There was also concern voiced about “the aesthetics” of the center that is close to two large commercial businesses. The board asked that Johnson attend the November meeting to offer more details.

On Thursday, Johnson said he was surprised by the school board’s reaction and said county officials had previously toured the potential site twice with the school superintendent.

There were other Cranberry Township locations considered, said Johnson. One parcel, owned by the Oil Region Alliance, is an industrial site but has a buried electric utility line that made the project cost prohibitive, he said.

The other was the former Sears store in the Cranberry Mall. That site was ruled out because Sears has a long-term lease on the property.

“At this point, there is no other back-up site,” said Johnson, adding he preferred ” a commercial corridor” as a prime location.

Objecting to the chosen location, one township resident said, “What’s the point of putting it on Route 257 in the middle of a community when you have a junkyard on Route 322 that everyone is screaming about?”

Johnson said the recycling center would be fenced, feature security cameras and be staffed. It would be open to all county residents and would offer typical recycling for glass, plastic and paper as well as specialized collections, including tires, electronics and hazardous household products.

Noting some communities had established recycling bins for residents, those have since been stopped because “they were not cost effective,” said Johnson.

“Cranberry Township (which has recycling bins) was one of the last holdouts,” he said. “We’re trying to fill a void here.”

Open burning issue

One key concern in the township’s new recycling ordinance involves open burning.

Johnson said the “basic premise” is that residents will not be able to burn garbage or materials that can be recycled, such as plastics and glass. What will be permitted are open fires, including those used for “food preparation,” and burn cans. Leaves and brush can be burned, said Johnson.

In approving the ordinance, the supervisors added three restrictions. The recycling ordinance will not go into effect until the county recycling center is operational. Secondly, leaves and brush burning will be specifically noted as permitted. Finally, residents and businesses will be required to recycle materials bi-weekly instead of a provision that calls for weekly recycling.

The measure, including the changes, was approved unanimously by supervisors Harold Best, Fred Buckholtz and Jerry Brosius.

Scout project approved

The supervisors endorsed an Eagle Scout project proposed by Alex Best, a member of Boy Scout Troop 111. Best will refurbish the trails in the township-owned Morrison Park as his project.

“It’s a good Eagle project and we need it there,” said Buckholtz.

Township manager Chad Findlay noted that once the trails are “cleaned up,” the project could be used in an application for Community Development Block Grants to make the trails fully handicapped-accessible.