Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 51
Recycling center gets nod despite residents' concerns
BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
After an opposition force 200 people strong simmered down to a mere 45 minutes’ worth of speakers from the Westgate residential area, the Santa Maria City Council gave SA Recycling the go ahead at the tail end of a five-hour meeting on Feb. 19.
The Westgate residents’ appeal to the planned development permit for an SA Recycling facility at 1599 Betteravia Road was on the agenda after the lengthy appointment process of the city’s newest councilmember, Willie Green.
That delay is why the army of angry residents who lined the hallways of City Hall dwindled to just those who could hold out until after 10 p.m. to make their case against the recycler.
Carol Moore, one of the lead petitioners on the appeal, told the council that the residents she represented didn’t trust SA Recycling, which she called the “Wal-Mart of recycling,” to keep its facility clean.
“We don’t want to be in our backyards and inside our homes to hear the crusher and trucks and breathe in toxic fumes of heavy metals, asbestos from brake linings, diesel emissions, and chemicals from onsite equipment exhaust,” Moore said. “We do not trust SA Recycling because of their bad history with pollution.”
These concerns point mostly toward a 2007 metal-shredding facility explosion on Terminal Island in the Los Angeles area. SA Recycling was hit with an environmental lawsuit it settled out of court to the tune of almost $3 million.
Jeff Farano Sr., who handles corporate legal counsel and government relations for SA Recycling, told the Sun that the accident occurred before the company owned the facility.
But Moore worried about hazardous waste and said that planned mitigation measures outlined in the development plan aren’t enough to compensate for the effects the facility would have on residents in the Westgate and Paseo Del Sol neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are located within 1,000 feet of where the facility is proposed.
Other residents who spoke said they were worried about traffic congestion and noise, in addition to the environmental concerns outlined by Moore.
Several folks asked for a continuance, but the council persevered and saw the meeting through to the end, ultimately telling residents what they didn’t want to hear: a 4-0 vote—with Green abstaining—upholding the Planning Commission’s December approval of the facility’s planned development permit and denying the residents’ appeal.
Councilmember Terry Zuniga told meeting attendees that she believed the new recycling facility would be better, both aesthetically and environmentally, than what exists at the site now—a tow shop and a diesel repair shop. Councilmember Bob Orach said he’s been up and down Betteravia thousands of times, and thinks a recycling center fits within the industrial zoning requirements of the area.
“I don’t think there’s going to be that much of an impact on Betteravia,” Orach said.