DEEP issues long-awaited recommendation on Recycling Inc.

State officials released a statement today about an application from Recycling Inc. to expand operations, noting that a hearing officer recommends the request be denied and Recycling Inc. ordered to shut down.

Recycling Inc. operated a recycling facility in Milford in recent years under a general permit from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, according to a press release from the DEEP.

More than two years ago, Recycling Inc. proposed to expand their activities into other solid waste areas and applied for what is called a Volume Reduction permit. DEEP staff had recommended granting the Volume Reduction Permit, but a petition was submitted to challenge that approval, which led to a hearing before a hearing officer.

The hearing officer issued a proposed final decision in a document distributed to the press Monday.

“In short,” state officials said, “the hearing officer recommends denying the requested new permit for the volume reduction facility and revoking the registration under the general permit to operate the current recycling facility.”

The hearing officer concluded the following:

“Recycling Inc. submitted an incomplete and misleading application that omitted certain required information and provided inaccurate and false information regarding its ownership, financial stability and corporate structure and operations,” according to the state’s press release. “The application also did not reveal that Gus Curcio, Sr., who has a history of non-compliance, had an ownership interest in Recycling Inc. at the time of its application and was also involved in its operations and financing. In addition to the reasons for the permit denial, additional grounds for revocation of the general permit registration include Recycling Inc.’s false information in its application for registration and non-compliance with the reporting requirements under the General Permit.”

The parties have until Sept. 9 to file exceptions and/or requests for oral argument. These are steps in the process that allow challenges to the proposed final decision.

Once those steps are concluded, the hearing officer will issue a Recommended Final Decision which goes to the commissioner, or his designee, for final action by the agency. The final decision of the agency can be appealed to Superior Court.

A little history

Last April the controversial site on Naugatuck Avenue was on the market for $6 million and operations there appeared to have stopped.

The city had been battling Recycling Inc. for more than four years. The company was up and running for a short time under state permits until the city shut it down. Recycling Inc. then tried to expand and reopen, and the city moved in to battle the proposal from several different angles.

At the same time, Recycling Inc. representative Darlene Chapdelaine continued to wage her own war to turn the site into what she said would have been the premier recycling facility in the area.

About two years ago, Chapdelaine and convicted felon Gus Curcio Sr. began battling over who owned the recycling facility. Chapdelaine argued that she owned the business, and she filed papers in Milford Superior Court to keep Curcio out. Curcio, in papers filed in Bridgeport Superior Court, maintained he owned the business and fired Chapdelaine.

In December, a judge ruled that Curcio owned the business, thus leading the DEEP to reverse an earlier ruling in the company's favor, saying that the company's applications were based on misinformation.

Fight is over

Mayor Ben Blake said last year that the city fought Recycling Inc. to preserve the city's character.

“It was a battle to protect Milford's way of life and make sure garbage trucks weren't rolling past neighborhoods where children are playing,” Blake said.

Legally, the city now has more rights to regulate the land than it did before. State Sen. Gayle Slossberg helped close what local officials said was a loophole that gave the property owner the upper hand in building a solid waste facility. Legislation restored oversight to the municipality.

“If someone is going to develop there, we have local oversight back if it's going to be for garbage or landfill use,” Blake said.

Last year Chapdelaine said she walked away from the project, after having put about a half-million dollars into it.

“Recycling Inc. is dead,” Chapdelaine said last April. “I have to pick my battles.”

David Slossberg, an attorney representing the city, said that even if Recycling Inc. has not been operating, he and city officials were still waiting for this decision and are pleased with it.

“This is essentially a trial decision that not only supports the DEEP staff finding on special permits but shuts Recycling Inc. down altogether,” Slossberg said. “It’s a wonderful result of an instance where city and state offices and counsel all are able to pull together and get the right result — Recycling Inc. can’t open.”