Private school as seen from Green Now site (photo Asad Ba-Yunus)
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School and Mosque Asks to Protect Children and the Environment
Zafar Alikhan, an urban planner by profession, represented the Islamic Foundation of South Florida and the Salah Tawfik Elementary and Middle School, a house of worship and full-time prek-8th grade private school, located directly adjacent to the north side of the proposed plant. Mr. Alikhan argued that the school, its students and activities, as well as the daily prayer and other education and recreational activities of the attached mosque would be adversely affected by the building of the Green Now plant on property directly connected to the school’s grounds.
He also presented the commission with a petition electronically signed by over 1,000 people opposing the plan. The commissioners were asked to consider the health, safety and welfare of the most vulnerable of our society – the children, and to make education a priority by looking first to those students who would be immediately affected by this plan.
Mr. Alikhan also pointed out the environmental impact on the surrounding areas, including the Everglades protected wildlife management area located on the other side of the Sawgrass Expressway. He pointed out that chemicals that could leach into the ground water, dry agents that could become aerosolized, debris from trucks as well as the noise and vibration of trucks and machinery would pose a significant threat to the delicate ecosystem. The trucks themselves would pose hazards to the community and the children, from pollution, emissions and leaking fluids.
Commissioners Take a Stand
While it was clear from the previous City Commission hearing that Commissioners Alu and Scuotto were opposed to the Green Now plan, Commissioner Larry Sofield noted that it was obvious that the city did not want this plant in their community. He said that he did not think it was worth “beating a dead horse” and that he was opposed to the proposal. He noted that he was one of the three commissioners who wanted to hear Green Now’s proposal to get the details, but, now that he had heard everyone’s opinions, he felt that the plan should not be approved now or in the future.
Commissioner Sheila Alu also confirmed her “100%” opposition to the plan, and Mr. Scuotto was concerned as to whether the commission could reject the proposal and bind future commissions from adopting it. With three commissioners opposing the proposal, the discussion turned to whether those individuals who wanted to speak should be allowed to make brief presentations. A number of Sunrise residents came to the podium, all opposing the plan. There was not even a single resident who spoke in favor of the plan.
At the conclusion of the discussion, the City Commission voted unanimously to not move forward with the proposal and to direct the City Attorney to draft legislation to amend the City’s Charter prohibiting the use proposed in the Green Now proposal for consideration by the Commission in the coming weeks. Such a Charter amendment would require a vote of the residents of Sunrise to modify, preventing a future commission from simply modifying the code or granting a variance for such a proposal. The Commissioners are scheduled to hold a workshop to review the City Charter on March 2.
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