By Alex Davidson

Community Board 10 voted last Thursday against a recommendation to allow a year-old city composting facility in Brooklyn seeking a state permit to take in more solid waste materials such as grass, leaves and potentially horse manure.

Nearby Howard Beach residents said they were worried the city Department of Sanitation site would leave them holding their noses during the summer months when high temperatures accelerate the decomposition process that could bring pungent smells eastward to borough residents.

Community Board 10 covers the communities of Ozone Park, South Ozone Park and Howard Beach.

“The composting is a wonderful thing, but the odors are the problem,” said Sheldon Wilpon of nearby Lindenwood. “And the problem with leaves and grass is that they can give you as much odor as manure.”

Wilpon said he has had experience with previous smells coming from the South Brooklyn Incinerator and other nearby landfills. He said he did not want the facility to increase the amount of materials it is composting because it could endanger the health of surrounding residents.

Ronald Dillon of Brooklyn, president of a nearby homeowners association, said he wants a citywide public hearing on the issue because it concerns the two adjacent boroughs. He said Community Board 5 in Brooklyn, of which he is a member, voted to oppose the site's expansion.

“They're bringing waste to the facility and then they're taking it out,” he said.

During the meeting, Department of Sanitation officials outlined plans to expand operations at the Spring Creek Composting Facility at the corner of Fountain and Flatlands avenues. The city site, according to Director of Composting Venetia Lannon, has been accepting leaves, grass, wood chips and other materials for more than a year without any complaints from Howard Beach residents.

Lannon said the city facility currently accepts a limited amount of compostable material and workers perform maintenance work on the site that would otherwise be an idle dumping ground in this era of budget constraint. She said there are few alternatives for the property because it is a former landfill.

“It would take a lot of money to remediate the site and make it into a park,” she said.

She said she has no intention of taking in horse manure at the site but had to include it in the application for the permit in the event the city has to accept the material in an emergency situation.

Lannon said the Sanitation Department is seeking a state permit after one year of operation to take in more solid waste. She said the Spring Creek site has been operating since the fall of 2001 without a permit because it has collected a limited amount of compostable materials that is acceptable under state law.

But despite Lannon's attempts to reassure nearby residents that the department will limit the amount of drifting smells using aeration techniques and lime, residents still voted against the proposal.

“If this is dedicated parkland, it should be used as dedicated parkland,” said John Marus, head of the board's land use committee.

Lannon said the Department of Parks and Recreation gave Sanitation the site because it had no money to clean nontoxic ash from the incinerator and could not turn it into a park for at least a decade. She said the composting facility would operate for 15 years if granted the state permit.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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