Innovation Environmental Park Approved by B.O.C.C.


County commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the proposed Recycling Landfill located on near County Road 640 next to the large Mosaic phosphate facility and gypsum stacks.

Tom Mims plans to construct a $35 million combination landfill and recycling facility on 800 acres of his property.    The property is surrounded by lands designated as industrial and phosphate mining.

The facility will be located in the northwest portion of his 1741 acre tract.  The project will require a landfill permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, however, the owner is considering sending any unrecyclable material to the Polk County landfill.

According to the owner, engineering will begin within the next two weeks.  However, no ground-breaking date has been set.

The proceedings consisted of a Comprehensive Plan amendment from Phosphate Mining (PM) to Institutional (INST), a change from INST-1 to INST-2, and a conditional use permit for the proposed facility.  The votes for the land use changes were 4-1, with Commissioner Edwin Smith voting no.   Smith previously voted no on another Mims proposal to change approximately 300 acres from the land use designation PM to Industrial.

After the property owner made several compromises at the suggestion of Commissioner Jean Reed,  she (Reed) still voted against the proposed project which could create over 350 jobs and result in 35 million dollars in construction costs.  Last year Reed voted against Mims proposal on a separate tract that will create industrial jobs.

Opponents argued that the use was not compatible, even though a C&D landfill and even more onerous uses are allowed under the PM land use designation.  Even more compelling is the adjacent uses which are non-residential, including the gypsum stacks, the Mosaic facility, the recent mining in the area and the industrial tract (with railheads) lying directly east of the property.

The Florida Department of Community Affairs had no major objections to the project which is rarely the case.  Ironically, the same board voted 5-0 in favor of a large Mosaic project that DCA raised substantial concerns about.

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