A giant pile of storm debris is growing at a landfill that neighbors fought to close years ago.

At least one commissioner is not happy that his colleagues voted to send the hurricane debris to a landfill on the Gulf Coast.

If you drive down State Route 82 and turn right past Colonial Boulevard, you won’t be able to miss the stacks piled higher than a car at the recently opened Gulf Coast landfill.

The wreckage of Hurricane Jan was taken to a landfill. CREDIT: WINK News

With so much trash being taken to this landfill, some people wonder why this landfill?

“We had to make a very difficult decision to use a landfill that had some permitted space left … and use that permitted space and use that landfill,” said Brian Hamann, Lee County Commissioner.

As such, Lee County still had a permitted site at the Gulf Coast Landfill, a site that had been closed since 2007.

Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass made it clear he disagreed with fellow commissioner Hamman.

“Well, I think it was a poor decision based on what we were told 17 years ago by the people of the area that it was closed,” Pendergrass said. “And the city and county allowed construction and development around the landfill with the perception of the general public who purchased the property that it would be closed forever.”

Pendergrass echoed the concerns of people who live near the dump.

“I’m concerned about air quality, water quality when it rains. There will be runoff from this exposure. So, I mean, sure, there’s construction debris going in there, but there’s also drywall. We don’t know if there’s Chinese drywall or asbestos in the insulation,” Pendergrass said.

Pendergrass told WINK News there are other places Lee County could send the trash. Two examples of where trash can be taken are the Lee County and Hendry County Landfills.

WINK News has learned that the county is making great efforts to be transparent in everything it does.

Tuesday’s meeting was to hear all the complaints of people living near the dump and hopefully allay their fears.

People did come with questions and signs of protest, but apparently residents appreciated the district and wanted to listen.

Many people are concerned about what kind of trash is being thrown into the dumpster and feel that they should have set up a special place for trash before the storm hit, just in case.

Most people WINK News spoke to weren’t happy about it and didn’t come away completely convinced, but others felt their concerns were heard.

“I mean, the hurricane was devastating for everybody; a lot of people have lost everything and we feel very sorry for that. But suddenly you hear that your commissioners are voting to reopen this landfill that was so called never to be opened back in 2006/2007. And we just feel like we’re owed more than that,” said concerned resident Kathleen Shriver.

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