Almost 30 years ago, former Brevard County commissioners spent $10 million to wrestle a 3,000-acre section of ranchland from Deseret Ranches of Florida as a future landfill.
And now, most of the current commissioners are no longer interested in it.
“When you look at other options, any way you slice it, putting another landfill out on (U.S.) 192, at the entrance to the county, is a bad idea,” commission Chair Kristine Isnardi told her colleagues last week.
Isnardi, of Palm Bay, represents a district that includes the Indialantic area on the county’s barrier island – as well as the 80-acre Sarno Road landfill.
County Solid Waste Director Euripedes Rodriguez says that landfill is some 80 percent filled and could last up to 4 more years before needing to be capped.
Rodriguez said the county has already spent about $14 million to pursue state and federal permits to turn the U.S. 192 land, near the Osceola County line, into a landfill that would extend the county’s waste-disposal life by 60 years.
He said the county next needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But in the July 9 commission meeting, Isnardi led the opposition to signing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit.
Isnardi argued that turning that land into a landfill would bring down neighboring property values. And it would present a poor view of the county to visitors driving here from the west, she said.
“Is this what you want to see when you drive into the county?” she asked. “Do you want to tell people coming to Brevard County, ‘I live on 192, right after you pass the landfill’?”
Vice Chair Bryan Lober, of Rockledge, won a 3-2 vote on his motion to hold off on the Corps of Engineers permit issue and, instead, focus on possibly buying a 36-acre landfill, north of the county’s Sarno Road property, from Florida Recyclers.
Lober’s motion gives Florida Recyclers until September to provide financial information on its property, so a county-hired appraiser can calculate a price.
Voting with Lober were Isnardi and Commissioner Rita Pritchett, of Titusville.
Pritchett said she had no problem letting Deseret Ranches continue to lease back its U.S. 192 land for cattle grazing “forever and ever. Amen.”
Commissioners John Tobia and Curt Smith dissented, preferring to sign the Corps of Engineers permit. Tobia, of Grant-Valkaria, represents a district that includes a strip on the barrier island from Melbourne Beach south to the Sebastian Inlet.
Smith, of Melbourne, represents a district that includes the Satellite Beach and Indian Harbor Beach areas on the barrier island.
Rodriguez said the county could add $12 million to the 192 land’s value by investing $60,000 more and getting it fully permitted and rezoned for a landfill.
Tobia said he couldn’t understand the logic in not doing that.
“I strongly support signing that 192 permit,” Tobia said. “To sit here, twiddling our thumbs … does a disservice to taxpayers.”
Smith objected to the idea of selling the 192 land, partly because of the time and money already spent getting permits. Also, he said, that would remove from future commissions the ability to dispose of their own waste without having to haul it to other counties.
Rodriguez estimated it would cost $100 million over 25 years to haul Brevard’s garbage and other debris to the JED Landfill in Osceola County.