Flawed recycling material recovery facility (MRF) defeated

With assistance from CEDS Florida residents recently defeated a flawed recycling or Material Recovery Facility (MRF) that threatened to harm their homes due to excessive noise, dust, odors and loss of property value.   While recycling and MRFs can provide many benefits, they are essentially intense industrial operations posing potentially severe harm to those living nearby.  

RECYCLING MRFS HAVE 600-FOOT IMPACT ZONE

CEDS assisted area residents in researching the effects of existing recycling facilities similar to that proposed near their homes.  Our clients visited these facilities and spoke with those living or working nearby.  They found that the similar facilities caused excessive harm when located within 600 feet of a home.  This research was combined with other information gathered by CEDS and compiled into our Initial Strategy Analysis.  We then drafted the following testimony for our clients to present before the local Planning & Zoning Board.  This testimony convinced the Board to recommend denial by a vote of 6 to 1 . 

TESTIMONY THAT DEFEATED A FLAWED RECYCLING MRF PROPOSAL

Good evening Mayor Rice and members of the City of Lake Worth Beach Planning & Zoning Board.

My name is Peter Detore.  Elise Crohn and I live at 402 Elizabeth Road, which is 180 feet from the Project Frank site.  I was particularly concerned about how this facility might affect my health due to respiratory conditions I suffer as a result of my military service. 

While the Project Frank construction and demolition debris recycling facility could provide public benefits, the proposed site will result in substantial and unavoidable negative impacts to the public due to noise, dust, pests, and other quality of life impacts.  Our research shows that these impacts harm those living within 600 feet of C&D processing facilities. 

Because a large number of people live within 600 feet of the Project Frank site it does not meet the finding of harmony and lack of great public harm required to grant the Conditional Use Permit requested by the applicant.  Therefore, we urge you to deny the Conditional Use Permit application.  We also call upon the City Commissioners to guide future facilities of this type to lower impact locations by amending the City Land Development Regulations.

SO, HOW DO WE KNOW RECYCLING – MRF WOULD CAUSE SUBSTANTIAL HARM?

Well, we engaged Community & Environmental Defense Services – CEDS – to help us resolve our concerns about this proposal.  CEDS helps people throughout the U.S. with concerns like ours.  CEDS can frequently find ways of resolving negative effects while allowing facilities like Project Frank to be built.  Therefore, CEDS urged us to first visit facilities similar to proposed Project Frank to determine if, in fact, nearby residents do experience negative impacts.

CEDS provided us with a Florida Department of Environmental Protection list of 42 C&D processing facilities active throughout the state.  Using recent Google Earth aerial photos, CEDS identified five of these active facilities that most resembled Project Frank as depicted in the plans submitted to the City.  Specifically, all five facilities appeared to process C&D waste within a building without any outside storage. 

When we visited these five similar facilities, we observed each from adjoining public areas then attempted to speak with those living or working closest to the facility.  We learned from these neighbors that three of the facilities caused significant harm to their quality of life.  The harm was due to noise, dust, odors, or pests.  Those living or working more than 600-feet from similar facilities were not adversely affected.  Since Project Frank processing would occur within 250 feet of the nearest residence, it is likely that it will cause excessive harm to area residents.

WHY WE FOUND FACILITY POSED SIGNIFICANT HARM WHEN CITY STAFF DID NOT

In the July 11th memo from City Planner Alexis Rosenberg to you, staff found that Project Frank met all the required Conditional Use Permit findings.  Of course, this differs considerably from our position.

The most likely reason for these differences is that staff did not have an opportunity to visit existing recycling facilities similar to proposed Project Frank.  Therefore, staff was not aware of the substantial harm these existing similar facilities have caused to nearby residents. 

Instead, it appears staff made the understandable assumption that control measures likely to be required by the City of Lake Worth Beach, Palm Beach County, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection would ensure no adverse effects to area residents.  However, we spoke with people living near existing similar facilities and found that control measures have not been sufficient to prevent excessive harm to the public. 

The only measure which did protect the public was where existing similar facilities are more than 600 feet from the nearest home.  Since Project Frank will be within 250 feet of our home, the homes of many of our neighbors, and the Oakwood Apartments, it is likely Project Frank will cause excessive harm to these members of the public.

IN CLOSING…

I urge you to deny a Conditional Use Permit for Project Frank at the proposed location which is within 600 feet of homes.

I have copies of a report prepared by our consultant, CEDS. 

May I give these to you?

Thank you

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