Oak Creek - Mayor Stephen Scaffidi cast the tiebreaking vote Tuesday, denying a conditional-use permit that would have allowed Green Man Wood Services to compost on their land at 9000 S. Nicholas Road.
The decision came amid multiple concerns, including the smell of compost, use of zoo bedding and the increased traffic of trucks dumping the compost.
"This is too much of a big issue here," Scaffidi said. "We have to be concerned with what the residents think. You guys obviously run a good business, but this part of it is causing too much consternation in that area."
Green Man Wood Services originally received a permit for wood-chipping services only. They were found to be composting without a city-issued permit in December of 2011.
At the first council meeting about the business' use of compost, it was determined that the item be held until the business receives a license from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to compost in the area.
Owner Dan Gustin and the business worked with the DNR, which was in the process of rewriting the rules on composting, for one year and eventually received a license to compost. Many of the new rules on composting from the DNR come directly from their work with Green Man Wood Services.
Alderman Daniel Bukiewicz, who voted against denying the composting efforts, said that if the city trusts the DNR on matters as large as the lakefront redevelopment, they should listen to the DNR's decision to grant Green Man Wood Services the contract.
Gustin fielded questions and concerns from aldermen and neighbors. One of the most vocal opponents to the proposed composting was former alderman and School Board member Mark Verhalen.
Verhalen, who voted in favor of the establishment of Green Man Wood Services in 2007, adamantly opposed their use of compost. He went so far as to bring some of the manure that Green Man Wood Services used to the council meeting, setting three sealed bags of the compost on a table.
"I think it's not fair for the people who have lived here for 30 or 40 years to put up with something that's going to adversely affect the neighborhood," he said.
Two residents who live near the business laid out their grievances as well, with their main concern being the smell that the site would produce year-round.
Concerns were raised about possible contamination from pathogens in the Milwaukee County zoo bedding used as compost.
Gustin countered that he uses wood chips to cover the smell, that only a small portion of the compost is animal waste and that the manure used is aged two to three years.
"We've invested way too much money into this thinking it was something positive for the community, and we will take our business elsewhere," a frustrated Gustin said after the meeting.
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