MENOMONEE FALLS (WITI) -- In the school gym inside Benjamin Franklin Elementary School on Thursday evening, March 20th, there was a kind of community court underway. The jurors were members of the Village of Menomonee Falls Plan Commission. At a podium, evidence was presented. The decision at hand: whether to allow a chemical waste water treatment facility into town.
"Tonight is our opportunity to get our story out there, very plainly, very clearly," Mike Malatesta said.
Malatesta is the president of Advanced Waste Services -- the parent company of Chemworks.
The company, which has a controversial past, plans to move from the Miller Valley in Milwaukee to the Village of Menomonee Falls.
The company has a history of environmental fines and odor issues. It's a past that has caught the attention of those in Menomonee Falls.
On Thursday, the company worked to make a case that those past issues will not follow it to its new home.
"We have controls in place for everything that could be a risk. We care about what we're doing," Malatesta said.
Coming to the company's defense are people like Richard Fulk, whose civil chemical and engineering company has audited Advanced Waste Services for 10 years.
"They are a company that is in substantial compliance with their waste water and solid waste permits. I'm not worried about all the odors," Fulk said.
Supporters of the company arrived in numbers Thursday evening -- dressing in yellow vests.
On the other side of the room stood Menomonee Falls residents -- some of whom remain skeptical.
"You read this and it sounds wonderful, but what if we get the plant and it's not true?" one resident said.
The Village of Menomonee Falls Plan Commission must determine whether zoning on the land in Menomonee Falls is a match for what Advanced Waste Services/Chemworks wants to use it for.
The Plan Commission will make the final ruling in the case.
Advanced Waste Services has filed a Notice of Claim against the Village of Menomonee Falls asserts, among other things, that the Village of Menomonee Falls’ referral of the AWS occupancy permit to its Plan Commission is illegal, is a violation of the company’s constitutional rights and is not in compliance with Village ordinances.
Among other relief, the claim seeks damages against the Village in excess of $2 million.
Advanced Waste Services has already been issued an occupancy permit for the use of the site, located on Lilly Road. That permit was granted in September of 2013.
The occupancy permit states that, “This building/premises and the proposed use are in conformance with the provisions of the Village of Menomonee Falls zoning ordinance.”