Asphalt recycling plant told to close its doors

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By Alice Du Pont

C.W. Roberts was given 18 months by the Gadsden County Board of Commissioners to close his asphalt recycling plant on State Road 267 last Tuesday. In April, commissioners gave Roberts 30 days to decide whether he would request a special exemption or close the facility.

Roberts asked Tuesday night for a 5-year extension, which would allow him to continue operating under a special use permit while pursuing a comprehensive land use change.

In 1992, Roberts was given permission to use the site to store asphalt while his company paved Interstate 10 in Gadsden County. Residents in the area and an environmental group called "Friends of Lake Talquin" objected to the plant which, they say, has operated without the proper permits for the past 17 years.

Barry Haber, representing the organization, said he can't understand why the Planning and Zoning Commission has not enforced the county's code because the plant is not located in an industrial zone.

"It's a huge junk yard on 267. This land may be contaminated. There have been no core samples taken nor has a true environmental study ever been done," Haber said. He handed commissioners a petition bearing 300 signatures of those in favor of the facility closing.

Roberts said the plant has recycled asphalt and some concrete barriers stored on the 123-acre property but said it was not a junk yard. Each year, he said, the Department of Environmental Protection inspects the property and the company is in compliance with DEP requirements.

"We asked what kind of buffer they (Friends of Lake Talquin) wanted and they never gave us an answer. We employ 200 people who live in Gadsden County. If you want us to move, we'll move but we can't do it in a month. If we have to move the plant it will take 2 years," Roberts said.

Commissioner Brenda Holt said she could not support closing the business. She said the commission should work with Roberts.

Commissioner Sherrie Taylor, who represents the district where the plant is located, said she talked with Quincy city officials about the company relocating to the city's industrial park, located off Joe Adams Road.

"I had a dialogue with the residents near the industrial park and they had no opposition. I talked to the city of Quincy and they want it in their industrial park," Taylor told Roberts.

Jack McLean, Quincy city manager, said he doesn't know who Taylor talked with but it wasn't him.

"That's not the kind of business we have in mind for that area," McLean said.

Roberts, however, said he would not consider relocating within the county.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will make a recommendation to commissioners on the process Roberts must use to shut down the operation.