Following public opposition, Charleston County Council changed course Tuesday night and voted against pursuing a new recycling and garbage-sorting site in West Ashley.
The county will instead begin negotiating for a site located along Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston.
Prior to the site-selection vote Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, city councilmen Marvin Wagner and Keith Waring, and a half-dozen West Ashley residents spoke to County Council and voiced their opposition to the Bees Ferry location.
The county was looking at a tract of land adjacent to Bees Ferry landfill, along Bees Ferry Road, for a new facility that would handle recycling and eventually sort recyclable material from garbage.
Most who spoke praised the county’s recycling goals, but said residents of subdivisions in the Bees Ferry Road area already contend with garbage truck traffic to the Bees Ferry landfill, and don’t want a recycling and sorting center there, as well.
“We just ask that you consider some other sites,” said Marge Rudisill, a Carolina Bay resident who brought a petition with about 160 signatures opposing the Bees Ferry site.
Riley told County Council members that the government needs to support the quality of life in residential areas
“Most respectfully, the Bees Ferry location fails any reasonable analysis of land-use planning,” Riley said. “Sites like this should be for things like offices, and shops.”
While residents opposed having the site located near them, on County Council it was West Ashley resident Colleen Condon leading the push for the Bees Ferry site, and the North Charleston faction of County Council pushing for a site in North Charleston.
When Councilwoman Anna Johnson, of Johns Island, switched her vote, that tipped the balance to a 5-3 vote against Bees Ferry, with Councilman Dickie Schweers absent.
Last week the council had voted 5-4 for the Bees Ferry site, with Johnson and Schweers in the majority.
“I certainly didn’t think we were bringing anything harmful to the community,” Johnson said, while changing her vote.
Councilman Herb Sass, who supported the Bees Ferry site, said “the well has been poisoned” by information about the properties leaking out, following a closed-door meeting of the council Thursday.
Sass, Joe Qualey, and Condon were the three votes Tuesday night for the Bees Ferry site.
Condon said the county’s solid-waste consultant had recommended the location.
“I want to have the ability to pull recycling out of the existing landfill and reduce its size,” Condon said. “None of that can happen if we don’t co-locate the recycling facility with the landfill.”
Like Sass, Condon said the public got the wrong idea about the plan after information leaked out. The county had made no effort to inform the public about the plan, but intended to begin land-purchase negotiations.
The new facility would replace the county’s current recycling center, located near Morrison Drive in Charleston.
Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said the North Charleston site is along an industrial corridor suited for such a facility. It’s across the parkway from the privately owned Republic landfill.
Pryor said that eventually, that location could be used for sorting recycling from garbage, but the garbage would then need to be trucked to the landfill.
He said he’s confident that Tuesday’s vote settled the issue.
“This is done, D-O-N-E done,” Pryor said.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.