Southeast Gainesville residents demand closure of Florence Dump
January 3, 2024
Press release from Sierra Club Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Today, Southeast Gainesville residents gathered in opposition to the continued operation and expansion of the Florence Recycling and Disposal landfill in their community.
For more than 50 years, a construction and demolition (C&D) landfill has been operating in the heart of Southeast Gainesville, pumping out hazardous dust, noise, and pollution as little as 400 feet away from local residents. After the previous owner was shut down by numerous toxic waste violations and complaints from neighbors, Southeast Landholdings, Inc. (also known as Florence Recycling & Disposal) has been operating the site since 1994.
Rather than close the landfill, Florence Recycling & Disposal wants to expand it. An expansion was approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and is being challenged by residents who have petitioned the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). The expansion would allow the facility to double its current height, clearing the way for a staggering 70-foot mountain of crushed construction waste to be sited on an unlined parcel directly adjacent to schools, homes, parks, and churches in a predominantly low-income and Black community. This DOAH hearing is scheduled for the end of January.
Southeast Gainesville residents have been preparing to come before the Alachua County Commission to voice their concerns as the Special Use Permit for the Florence dump is set to expire on January 22, 2024.
On December 6, residents learned that the landfill owner is seeking a Legislative Extension, which, if the County accepts unchallenged, would permit the landfill to continue expanding until January 22, 2028, with no further review process.
Johnell Gainey, Kincaid Loop neighbor/stakeholder, said, “Just tell us the truth and show us! Not just by talking, but by actually doing what you say is going to be done. Start giving us the same type of things every other in the community has. I have a dump less than 1,000 feet from my front door. The man on the Northwest side has a plaza with a Publix, McDonald’s, and an Anytime Fitness Center. I don’t want to trade places with him. All I want to do is, when I go out my front door, to see a community that has value, a community that’s an asset to the city, a community I can be proud of. Can that be a reality? Or is it just another dream?”
Suzmiché Morris, Kincaid Loop neighbor/stakeholder, said, “The county must stand up and exercise county authority over the executive ordered legislative extension notice filed by the Florence Landfill. It will be unjust and sickening for the Florence Landfill to operate another 4-6 years circumventing the steps to acquire a valid county permit. Their legislative extension issued through an executive order squashes neighborhood stakeholders’ plea for a landfill closure plan to be enforced on 1/22/2024.”
Brackin Camp, Kincaid Loop neighbor/stakeholder, said, “This is devastating news considering the fact that the Board of County Commissioners just spent two years developing and adopting an Environmental Justice and Equity amendment meant to support and protect neighborhoods from exactly what is happening in literally our Southeast Gainesville backyards. This dump is just feet away from people’s homes and farms, and across the street from historic Boulware Springs City Park and the Alachua County Sweetwater Preserve. This dump would never be sited for operation today, especially under these newly adopted amendments. The Board of County Commissioners must use their local power to stop the private owners of the dump from their shady dealings to go to any length to continue their operation at the expense of the health of the nearby neighbors. The environmental impact of this dump is proven to inflict harm on this fragile ecosystem, i.e., local plants, animals, air, and aquifer groundwater. This toxic landfill must be shut down immediately!”
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