‘Veterans said they wanted to fight us’ Commissioners hold out on recycling plant near Pelican Preserve

Reporter: Annette Montgomery
Published: Updated:

Tuesday morning, several residents living in the 55+ community known as ‘Pelican Preserve’ came out to the Lee County commissioners meeting to voice their opposition about placing a recycling plant near their community. Commissioners decided to halt plans for the recycling plant after hearing from the crowd.

Commissioners approved the $14.5 million purchase agreement with Waste Management Inc. of Florida for the acquisition of a 50-acre parcel of land for a new solid waste recycling facility. The site is located near State Road 82 in eastern Lee County, adjacent to the former Gulf Coast Landfill but residents have been voicing concerns ever since.

“99.9% of the residents of Pelican Preserve are not informed about the plans for the recycling center,” said Carol Brokke, the president of the Pelican Preserve Residence Alliance.

“We request that the resident’s leadership be given a seat at the table to assure the decisions being made are not detrimental to our community. We have been left out of the process even though our community will be hugely impacted by the increased traffic, noise, and air pollution.”

Carol was one of many voicing concerns about the increase in traffic and noise, other neighbors said they felt like county commissioners weren’t listening to the people who voted for them.

“Do you have any idea what it’s going to do to the lives of the senior citizens who voted for you, who trusted for you? I promise each and every one of you that we old folks will fight every step of the way and do whatever it takes to get you to reconsider this project. We may be old but we’re not going to forget who threatened our community,” Fred Russo, a neighbor living in Pelican Preserve said.

After hearing comments from the crowd, commissioner Brian Hamman asked county staff if the sale on the 50 acre property was closed.

County staff said the closing date was originally set for May 2.

Commissioner Hamman made a motion to move the discussion to the next board meeting scheduled for March 5, and county staff said they will come back to commissioners with answers on the impact moving the site to another location will have and any associated costs.

“I’d rather not close on this piece of property and I definitely want to see us do something better to answer the questions for people on the front end,” Hamman said.

“We heard veterans tell us they want to fight us today. So, we heard fears today so we need to fix the process so that we can answer the fears on the front end and help people get a similar education to what we get.”

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