Agreement would allow landfill to expand 

The Friends Recycling Center is shown in Ocala, Florida on Monday July 5, 2021. The center takes construction garbage into its land fill. Area residents say the dump has polluted their water and want to see the center removed. [Alan Youngblood/Special to Ocala Style]

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Posted August 6, 2021 | By Joel Bronson, 

The Friends Recycling Center is shown in Ocala on July 5. [Alan Youngblood/Special to Ocala Gazette]

After months of sometimes heated public debate, the city of Ocala and Friends Recycling have come to an agreement on the future of a construction and demolition landfill in Northwest Ocala.

The development agreement would allow Friends Recycling to expand its landfill horizontally but not vertically and would be governed by specific restrictions.

The landfill does not take household garbage. It is limited to debris from construction and demolition work.

Tye Chighizola, growth management director for the city, detailed the assurances the agreement will put into place to ensure that buffers separate the landfill and surrounding residential properties.

“What we decided to do is put in protection buffers so that everyone knows where expansion is going,” Chighizola said.

Buffers that surround the landfill will be zoned appropriately to keep the distance between residences and the landfill.

The landfill must also comply with city noise and noxious odor regulations.

Friends Recycling, which has operated since the late 1980s, predates the city’s decision to remove C&D landfills from the code in 1991. As such, they can continue to operate but cannot expand.

In May, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn vetoed a zoning change that would have allowed Friends to expand.

The Friends Recycling Center is shown in Ocala on July 5 in this wide-angle shot. [Alan Youngblood/Special to Ocala Gazette]

City staff had also recommended that the council deny expansion due to a bevy of concerns, including increased noise, occasional strong odor, groundwater contamination, a decrease in nearby property values and an increase in truck traffic.

There was also concern about the visibility of the landfill from the expansive West Oak residential development being built immediately to the east. The development will include upwards of 1,400 residential units on 217 acres of the former Pine Oaks Golf Course.

Jerry Lourenco, owner of Friends Recycling, argued by expanding north Friends would be able to keep the height of the landfill lower.

“We’re trying to do the right thing by the community,” Lourenco said.

Fred Roberts, attorney for Friends, addressed the council at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“This agreement leaves the control with the city council. We heard that message loud and clear,” Roberts said. “Our client is fully behind this agreement.”

The second and final hearing is set for Aug. 17, at which time the council will vote to accept or deny.

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