Upper Holmesburg gets dirt on Britton Industries

Upper Holmesburg Civic Association discusses their most recent public hearing at City Hall for a suit filed against Britton Industries.

Saying no way: Upper Holmesburg residents attend a protest last year demanding Britton Industires, a mulch and topsoil supplier company, clean up its act. TIMES FILE PHOTO

The Upper Holmesburg Civic Association last week welcomed U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle and state Rep. Mike Driscoll, and delivered an update on the recent court hearing that Britton Industries had.

Toward the end of 2017, the city filed a lawsuit against Britton Industries, a mulch and topsoil supplier company with a site at 8901 Torresdale Ave. Residents and members of the civic association have made their concerns clear with the company. Their main issue with Britton Industries has been the odor that travels for several blocks and the debris around the site.

On April 10, there was a public hearing for the suit filed against Britton Industries held at City Hall. UHCA president Stan Cywinski believes around 20 people showed up, which he thinks is an impressive showing considering the court date was during a weekday. Cywinski and other members of the board mentioned the mutual respect the members of the civic and judge had for each other for their passion of getting this issue resolved.

A list of requirements was placed on Britton Industries as a result of the information provided at the hearing. The company must use wet sweep trucks to sweep dust from Torresdale Avenue, as needed and is required to begin washing dirt from truck tires to prevent them from tracking dirt out of the facility. Britton must install a visual barrier/screen on the fence of the facility along Torresdale Avenue and must lower the height of mulch stockpiles to 15 feet.

Members of the civic association were pleased with some of the requirements, but unanimously voted (39–0) to support appealing the permit in hopes to get rid of the business. The next court date for Britton Industries is May 8 at 9 a.m. at City Hall Room 446. Cywinski encouraged all of those who can attend the meeting to be present to voice their opinion on the direction they hope to see the case taken.

Boyle spoke to the civic association about the new congressional districts in Pennsylvania, and two specific issues he sees most pressing for his constituents.

In the previous map, the 13th District in which Boyle represented encompassed the majority of Northeast Philadelphia and a significant portion of Montgomery County. The new map drawn that is in effect for next month’s primaries has shifted all of the Northeast into the 2nd Congressional District. Under the previous map, sections of Upper Holmesburg were represented by Rep. Bob Brady, who is retiring. Boyle will be facing Michelle Lawrence for the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District in next month’s primary.

Boyle opened up with stating his opposition to the new tax plan passed in the latter part of 2017.

“It will be the biggest change to our taxes since 1986,” said Boyle. “I voted against this new tax plan.”

Boyle cited the hyper-partisan nature of the tax plan — not one House or Senate Democrat voted for the bill — and his disagreement of where the majority of tax cut he says is going. He stated that the bulk of the tax cut is going to wealthiest Americans.

“Eighty-three percent (of the tax cut) going to the wealthiest 1 percent,” said Boyle. He also issued his disapproval in state and local deductions in the new tax plan, which he believes will negatively impact his constituents.

Boyle also went on to state his thoughts on a possible infrastructure bill and how Congress should specifically go about it.

He stated the need for an infrastructure bill, “which I strongly support,” but added a provision that he believes is necessary for it.

“Why not have a Buy America provision?” asked Boyle. This, he said, would require 100 percent of the materials used on taxpayer-funded projects be American made.

Driscoll discussed the ongoing renovations for the Frankford Avenue bridge, and despite the frustrations people have now, he believes it will benefit the community when it is completed.

When hearing about other roadways and bridges getting repaired, he mentioned that the “oldest bridge in America (Frankford Avenue bridge) was forgotten.” He told those to reach out to his office if they are in need of free tokens for SEPTA buses. The bridge won’t open until August, as long as it stays on its current schedule.

Driscoll echoed his support for the civic group’s ongoing battle with Britton Industries and said officials in the state “know of this problem and knows how bad it is.”

“We’re not going away,” added Driscoll on the feud with Britton Industries.

An aide to City Councilman Bobby Henon announced that he will hold a forum on the city budget on Wednesday, April 25, from 6 to 9:30 pm.

The next UHCA meeting will be held on Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m. in St. Dominic’s Marian Hall. ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com