Sunrise City Commission during 2/23 hearing (photo N. Abbasi)
(2/23/2010) SUNRISE, FL – After a public hearing lasting nearly five hours, the Sunrise City Commission Tuesday rejected a proposal to build a solid waste transfer station along the Sawgrass Expressway, and adjacent to an elementary and middle school.
The proposal by Green Now, a company whose principal owner, James Feely, Jr., has a similar waste disposal company called Ace Waste, that has a contract with a security consulting company owned by Sunrise Vice Mayor Don Rosen, was opposed by the cities of Tamarac, Lauderhill, the Islamic Foundation of South Florida, the Salah Tawfik Elementary and Middle School, Republic/All Service Waste Disposal, and hundreds of Sunrise residents.
Over 500 people packed the Sunrise commission chambers, with hundreds more either watching from outside the chamber windows, or in a remote site at the Sunrise Civic Center, where a live video feed was being displayed. Children as young as 3 years old to 14 years protested prior to the meeting, chanting “Dump the Dump” while wearing protective surgical face masks. The children, all of whom were students from the school adjacent to the proposed site, stayed for the duration of the meeting, until it was clear that the proposal was doomed.
A New Plan
Green Now, represented by attorney Richard Coker, made its presentation for nearly a full hour, including fielding questions from various commissioners. They claimed that the widely-publicized details of their original proposal, as submitted to the commission staff in 2009, had been modified significantly due to the concerns of interested parties. Instead of processing general industrial solid waste, Coker stated that they would only process recyclables and dry materials, including cardboard, glass, plastics and metal. The plant would not process any residential or organic waste, but would employ ventilation and odor eliminating systems, as well as chemically treating waste water from washing the facility, according to Coker.
Coker emphasized that the 35 trucks entering and 35 trucks exiting the facility would consist mainly of two types of trucks – commonly seen recycling trucks that lift recycling bins that would bring recyclables to the plant, and large tractor-trailer trucks with open trailers covered by a tarp that would transport the materials out of the county to other facilities. Coker noted that all of the materials being brought to the plant would come from outside the City of Sunrise, as the city already had a contract with Republic/All Service for recycling and solid waste. He advised the commissioners that the details of how, when and what type of vehicles could be allowed were not yet determined, and could be tailored to the commission’s requirements.
City Commissioners, however, seemed concerned about whether they could control Green Now in the future if it were to overstep or violate the limits set by the commission, if approved. They also discussed an existing open-air solid waste disposal station owned and operated by the city, and questioned whether this project would bring any benefit to residents of Sunrise. The Mayor, Roger Wishner, asked Mr. Coker what steps could be taken to deal with truck traffic. Mr. Coker responded by telling the Mayor that Green Now would comply with whatever requirements the city imposed.
Neighboring Cities Oppose Plan
The entire City Commission and other city officials from Tamarac, Sunrise’s northern neighbor, also made a presentation to the Sunrise Commissioners. Led by Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco, a number of Tamarac commissioners took the podium, as well as the Tamarac City Manager, Jeff Miller, who emphasized the affects of 70-75 garbage trucks and tractor-trailer traffic on Commercial Blvd., including debris, road congestion and road deterioration. Mr. Miller also argued that such a plant would discourage businesses from moving-in to the Tamarac Commerce Park, located at Commercial Blvd. and Hiatus Road.
Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan also took the podium, noting that since the entire public hearing was held without any oath-taking by speakers, they would likely have to repeat the entire exercise under oath if the commission were to move forward on it. Mr. Kaplan argued that the truck traffic coming into Sunrise from any direction other than the southern parts of the county, the extreme north, or outside the county would likely use the surface streets of Lauderhill, Tamarac and Sunrise to access the plant. He suggested that these trucks would pose a variety of hazards to the residential areas as well as the numerous schools in the three cities. He also urged the commissioners to not consider such an unorthodox request by a company to obtain pre-approval of its plan before it goes through the entire municipal process.