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Compost facility proposed for Gary

Property along Central Avenue Gary being considered for composting facility.  | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

Property along Central Avenue in Gary being considered for a composting facility. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 13, 2012 10:40AM



GARY — An Illinois company with ties to Northwest Indiana wants to open a 37-acre yard waste composting site on the city’s eastern edge near Central Avenue and Colorado Street.

Heartland Recycling LLC, based in Forest View, Ill., is seeking a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals at their 3 p.m. Tuesday meeting to process yard waste in a residentially zoned parcel at 3400 Central Ave. The company would be called Greenland Farms & Compost Supply.

Joseph Volini, a manager at Heartland, said the company has an option to purchase the property, contingent on obtaining the variance. It’s owned by Glenmar Developers LLC, headed by Glen A. Ewen, of Lake Station.

On its permit application to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Heartland said the site — within a mile of Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center — would receive yard waste and vehicles would enter and exit from Central Avenue using an existing entrance.

Grinding and screening equipment required by the operation would be placed on the existing asphalt parking area. A home and outbuildings would also remain and will be used for offices and equipment storage.

Windrow composting, a common farming method, would produce the final product. It consists of piling organic matter in long rows that are turned regularly to improve oxygen content and to remove moisture.

Volini said the finished compost product would be similar to peat moss.

Windrows would run from west to east to follow the contours of the site, and a smaller area would be graded swales to convey runoff to a 60-by-60-foot holding pond from which runoff would be drawn to irrigate the compost.

Other land would be used for vegetable and row crop farming.

The finished compost would be sold wholesale to area nurseries and landscape contractors and to Gary, Lake Station and other Lake County municipalities for urban beautification, according to the permit application.

In its variance request to the city, Heartland estimated its annual intake at the site at 14,000 to 15,000 tons.

Volini said Heartland, organized in 2001, operates two municipal solid waste transfer stations in the Chicago area. He said the company has customers in East Chicago and Hammond.

Volini said the business would hire about five to 10 employees and operate on an eight-month basis. “It all depends on how the economy and business goes,” he said.

Thomas Volini, one of Heartland’s managers, headed Continental Waste Industries, a solid waste and environmental services firm, hired by former Gary Mayor Scott King in 1996 to operate Gary’s municipal landfill.

The landfill operated for decades without a state permit and was under pressure from the state to shut down.

The city hoped Continental Waste would improve the way the landfill was run, while providing cash to close it.

In 1997, a Gary couple sued the city and Continental Waste contending the dump site was illegal and located too close to residential areas. The landfill closed a short time later and the couple reached a settlement in 1999.



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