JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Neighbors in one Jacksonville community got the chance to weigh in on a proposed waste transfer station Thursday evening. The station would go right behind the tree line of the Greenland Chase neighborhood in Mandarin.
The facility has been floated as a potential solution to a longstanding problem: garbage piling high in some neighborhoods because of late pickups or trash going completely uncollected.
Residents have expressed opposition to the facility being located near their homes, saying they’re concerned it could lower property values, jeopardize their health and air quality and cause odor issues.
Councilman Danny Becton hosted the community meeting at Southpoint Community Church to discuss the waste transfer station. He saw it as an opportunity for neighbors to hear from city staff and Waste Pro, one of the city’s trash haulers, as well as a chance to ask questions.
Neighbors want Waste Pro to find another place to build a waste transfer facility.
“I can’t understand how they can decide that this is the best place for the waste transfer station,” said Haritha Gotle, who lives near Greenland Road and attended the meeting. “I cannot fathom how anybody, any person with some common sense can decide that a waste transfer station can go next to any community. Any community.”
“Would they put it in their neighborhood?” said Ardis Henderson Jr., a retired marine who attended the meeting. “That’s a good question. Would you put it in your neighborhood? Why would they want to put it in ours? That’s a beautiful neighborhood and we’d like to keep it that way.”
The facility is intended to provide a hub where trash haulers could dump their loads into bigger trucks, which would make the drive to the landfill, allowing smaller trucks to return to their routes sooner.
But residents have expressed concerns about what a potential tradeoff might entail for their families.
“We do acknowledge and recognize there are logistical and economical benefits to waste transfer stations; however, not at the expense of health and quality of life of our communities,” Greenland Chase resident Norm Brewer said.
“No Jacksonville resident should have to be forced to sacrifice their health for this project,” said resident Ashley Reid.
Reid was among dozens of neighbors who filled the City Council chambers during a meeting earlier this week, asking city leaders not to change the zoning that would allow the facility in their neighborhood or in any other community.
“As a mother of three, this is not what I want my or anybody’s developing children growing up by,” said Reid. “There are certainly other sites that do not impose irreparable harm to the residents and citizens of this city.”
The facility could be the solution to a problem the city’s faced for years as thousands of Jacksonville residents have been complaining about trash haulers missing pick-ups for weeks at a time and in some cases missing an entire street.
In November, the News4Jax I-Team found the city had more than 79,000 trash pick-up complaints in a little over a year.
“The reason this came about is because COJ put out an RFP … this is being proposed as a way to address collection issues throughout the southeastern part of the county,” said Steve Diebenow, Waste Pro attorney.