A five-person team representing the Charleston County government brought visual aids and recycling-themed giveaways, and waited two hours for its chance to pitch the county’s planned recycling center to North Charleston City Council on Thursday.
However, it quickly became clear that the City Council has little say as to whether the county creates a new recycling facility on land off Palmetto Commerce Parkway.
Council members did have concerns, largely dealing with truck traffic and that the county has not ruled out separating recycling from garbage at the location some day.
But the property is already zoned for heavy industry — the county wouldn’t need the city’s permission to put the proposed 75,000-square-foot recycling building there, Mayor Keith Summey told council members.
Summey, who at times took over the presentation from Art Braswell, director of Charleston County Environmental Management, said the only thing the county needs from the city is a zoning change for a portion of the 18-acre tract to allow for parking the county’s recycling trucks behind the proposed building.
“We’re going to be recommending that (to City Council),” said the mayor. “We’re asking them to park the vehicles behind the building, so they are not visible from the road.”
The recycling site has been a hot-potato for the county.
Charleston County Council first decided to located the facility next to Bees Ferry Landfill in far West Ashley, only to face protests from neighboring subdivisions and Charleston city officials. Then the county changed course less than a week later, narrowly voting to put the facility in North Charleston on Palmetto Commerce Parkway.
Again, nearby subdivisions protested, particularly Pepperhill and Colony North, gathering petitions and lobbying city officials.
Then, the leaders of Charleston County Council, Chairman Teddie Pryor and Vice Chairman Elliott Summey (Mayor Summey’s son), found a different site about a mile north on the parkway, with appropriate zoning and no homes nearby.
Some County Council members have argued that a vote is needed to change the location again, but Pryor and Summey disagreed and no vote has been taken.
City Councilman Ron Brinson represents the area where the facility is now planned, and his main concern Thursday night was traffic.
“We already have a traffic nightmare on Palmetto Commerce (Parkway) at Ashley Phosphate (Road) and at Ladson (Road),” he said.
Braswell offered no encouragement that the county would do something to improve the roads, but said the facility would likely see 80 to 100 truck visits daily — a count that Brinson doubled to account for the trucks coming and later going. Braswell also offered no assurance that the county’s expressed desire to separate recycling from garbage, rather than just sorting the recycling that citizens separate themselves, would not lead to garbage some day going to the planned Palmetto Commerce site.
“That hasn’t been decided,” he told North Charleston officials.
Councilman Ed Astle said he would bet money that garbage will go to the site some day.
“I’ll put book on this,” he said. “Their back parking lot will become the (garbage) sifter.”
Astle said he thinks the county should put the facility by the Bees Ferry Landfill, as the county’s solid waste consultants had recommended.
Mayor Summey said the North Charleston site makes sense because it’s centrally located, rather than being at the far end of the county.
The city is expected to take up the zoning issue at a future meeting, if the county pursues the site plan.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552