Charleston County could reconsider building its new recycling center on Bees Ferry Road if Charleston Mayor Joe Riley agrees not to fight the plan.
Charleston County Council's Finance Committee Tuesday was considering approving a contract on the fifth possible site for a new recycling center. That site is on the Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston - the third attempted site on that parkway.
But Council voted 6-3 to defer for two weeks the vote on that contract until council members were clear about the option of building the recycling center near the Bees Ferry Landfill. The third Palmetto Commerce Parkway site continues to be an option.
Council Chairman Teddie Pryor, Vice Chairman Elliott Summey and Council member Vic Rawl voted against deferring the vote.
County Council originally voted in August to build the recycling center on a site adjacent to the Bees Ferry Landfill in West Ashley, after the county's solid waste consultant recommended that site because he said it would be efficient to keep all solid waste services in one location. Council had considered two sites adjacent to the landfill.
Council initially selected one of the Bees Ferry sites, but Riley and nearby residents objected to a recycling facility being built there, largely over concerns about truck traffic on Bees Ferry Road.
County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said he will meet with Riley and return to council with a report on whether Riley would support the county building the facility on Bees Ferry Road or continue to oppose it.
The political debate over where to build the new facility has been going on for more than a year, causing a rift among council members and possibly slowing the pace of offering the widely popular single stream recycling to all eligible county residents.
"I would rather be home chewing tin foil," Councilman Henry Darby said of the contentious debate.
In single stream recycling, residents can mix all of their recyclables in one large rolling cart, instead of separating them. About 95,000 of approximately 120,000 eligible homes have received carts so far. It remains unclear when the rest of eligible residents will receive their carts.
Council in August ended up approving a site on the Palmetto Commerce Parkway the week after it voted on the Bees Ferry site. But that site and a subsequent site about a mile away turned out not to be viable.
County attorney Joe Dawson told council members that the third site on the Palmetto Commerce Parkway was near the Republic construction waste landfill. The nearly 20-acre site would cost $145,000 per acre, Dawson said.
Councilman Vic Rawl said he has met with residents of neighborhoods near the site and he's sure that they are supportive of the county building its facility there.
Residents of the Pepperhill and Colony North neighborhoods were opposed to the first Palmetto Commerce Parkway site.
Councilman Herb Sass, who voted in favor of taking another look at a Bees Ferry site, said he's concerned about the third Palmetto Commerce Parkway property and the contract.
There currently is no sewer access, Sass said. And, he thinks the $145,000 price per acre is too high because 25 percent of the nearly 20-acre property is under powerline easements. Permanent structures can't be built on powerline easements.
Council was scheduled to consider a contract with Sonoco to operate the county's current recycling facility, but instead it will ask Republic, the company that currently operates the facility, to extend its contract for 60 days. Republic's contract expires Jan. 31.
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.