Recycling center has home

A county recycling center became a step closer to reality when the Franklin zoning hearing board gave the green light for putting the recycling center in the Venango County Regional Airport bus depot.

Erik Johnson, Venango County’s recycling coordinator, said according to city zoning, a recycling center is allowed in industrial-zoned areas as a “special exception.”

On Wednesday, the Franklin zoning hearing board granted that special exception to the county to put the recycling center in the airport bus depot, which is zoned industrial and is within city limits.

One of the conditions the zoning hearing board set is the hours of operation be during weekdays between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. as well as one day on one weekend a month, Johnson said.

Another condition is the county guarantees it will get the correct permits form the Department of Environmental Protection, which Johnson said it will.

The $345,502 grant the county received in 2018 came with the stipulation that the money be used to equip and develop the recycling center.

The accompanying caveat, though, required the facility – one that would include security cameras, lighting and fencing, as well as being staffed – must be in operation by January.

Johnson said he has been granted an extension to get the facility up and running by June 2021.

A second stipulation calls for an ordinance to be passed that would require three things: all residents must have some sort of waste hauler, any recyclable items would need to be separated from general waste, and there would be no burning of materials that can’t be counted as yard waste.

Such an ordinance is already on the books in the city of Franklin.

Getting a location to place the recycling center was “the thing holding everything else up,” Johnson said.

The city zoning process, Johnson said, moved along well with the timeline for getting the center up and running.

Johnson said the space at the airport bus depot will be available once the buses are moved to the county’s multimodal transportation hub, which is under construction in Oil City.

Since the bus depot at the airport is already owned by the county, using it as a recycling center will not “burden taxpayers with lease payments,” Johnson said. It is a win for the community. We have to make the best use with the time and resources we have available.”

The next step will be to order equipment for the recycling center and procure an engineer for the project, Johnson said.

Until the buses are moved to the multimodal hub, Johnson said, the county won’t be able to make “invasive renovations” to the bus depot, but it will be able to put up fencing and security cameras.

Johnson said he has applied for an additional 902 recycling grant from the DEP in May.

If the county gets the additional $350,000 grant to buy equipment for or upgrade the recycling center, it will have about $700,000 to get the recycling center up and running, Johnson said.