State College

Odor problems dominate College Township meeting

Council member Eric Berneir talks to about the concern of odors coming from the UAJA during theCollege Township Council meeting on Thursday, March 19, 2015.
Council member Eric Berneir talks to about the concern of odors coming from the UAJA during theCollege Township Council meeting on Thursday, March 19, 2015. CDT photo

Following a Wednesday meeting of the University Area Joint Authority board of directors, residents upset with odors escaping the facility took their complaints to the College Township Council on Thursday.

Township residents have raised their voices in concern recently over smells that have been drifting over township residential and business areas, saying the bad odor forces them inside to escape the stench.

Teri Spence, who lives less than a mile from the UAJA site, said she has been speaking with fellow township residents and discovered the problem is much larger than she initially thought.

Spence went as far as to set up a petition on the website to collect signatures and comments from fellow disgruntled residents.

“This problem affects more than just residents,” she said. “It affects business owners, commuters, volunteers, out-of-town visitors and consumers.”

As of late Thursday, 162 supporters had signed the petition. Comments on the petition include complaints of smells at the nearby Wal-Mart and Nittany Mall out to Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Resident Terrie Henrickson called the smell “gross,” saying she felt bad for children walking to school or playing outside in the “rancid, bitter odor.”

She said she would be in support of some sort of chemical aeration to take away the bitterness.

“It’s getting progressively worse over the last 22 years,” she said. “It’s not fair to make College Township the sewer capital of the county.”

Township Manager Adam Brumbaugh said that, over the years, the township has received periodic complaints regarding the UAJA.

While the current situation is more intense than in the past, he said, it’s important to understand that Township Council doesn’t play a direct role in the UAJA. The council appoints representatives to serve on the UAJA board as part of the team of decision-makers for the facility.

UAJA board Vice Chairman David Lapinski and Walter Ebaugh currently serve as the township’s representatives.

Although the council’s role is limited, Brumbaugh said, the township can reach out to the board to ensure the issue is properly dealt with.

The township has a problem, Chairman Eric Bernier said, saying he also lives in the odor’s “zone of influence.”

Councilwoman Carla Stilson said it’s a serious problem.

“I can’t think of anything more encompassing,” she said. “Our businesses are being affected.”

Brumbaugh encouraged the residents who made comments to show up at Monday’s Centre Region Council of Governments meeting at the Ferguson Township municipal building. As each municipality, except Halfmoon, appoints its own board representatives, he said, they too can reach out to the UAJA board.

Brumbaugh was directed to contact the UAJA board as soon as possible. The council plans to discuss any responses during the April 2 council meeting for possibly adding the issue as an agenda item in the near future.