After criticism from residents and some aldermen, Mayor Steve Scaffidi cast a tie-breaking vote to reject Green Man Wood Services' plans to operate a state-licensed composting facility.
Green Man, 9000 S. Nicholson Road, has been the topic of much debate among its neighbors in the last year after owner Dan Gustin first tried starting composting operations back in November of 2011.
The Common Council delayed action to allow Gustin to sort out issues brought up by neighbors. Much of the residents' concerns stemmed from how composting, specifically the smell from the materials brought in, would negatively affect the neighborhood.
Those concerns have not died down. Residents complained Tuesday about foul odors in the area they believe came from Green Man, which last year brought in shipments of animal waste from the Milwaukee County Zoo for composting — without the proper permits — and proposed to do it again. Others feared the composting site would be an eyesore.
"The odor is unbelievable," said Tim Sommers, a neighbor of the facility. "I've been there 22 years and never put up with anything like this."
Gustin argued that when done properly, there is no odor at all. Many of the previous complaints were unfounded, he said.
He invited aldermen and residents to stop by and watch the process done so that they could feel more at ease.
Green Man, whose services include lawn maintenance, landscaping, tree removal and the recycling of wood products, got approval in 2007 to operate a lumberyard and contractor’s office, with outdoor storage included.
Under the proposal, Green Man would have received one daily shipment from the Milwaukee County Zoo to add to the compost pile. Gustin said odors from that could be removed by adding woodchips to the pile.
Some aldermen and Scaffidi said with many homes nearby, Green Man was not a good place for that type of operation.
Other aldermen said they could approve composting but limit what could be brought in — namely, prohibiting animal waste from the zoo.
After a 3-3 tie, Scaffidi cast the deciding vote to deny the composting operation.
"As much as I am pro-business, in this case I think this is too much of a big issue and we have to be concerned with what the residents think," Scaffidi said. "You obviously run a good business, but this part of it is causing too much consternation."