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City seeks to diversify land for solid waste

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

The City of Chiefland is looking to secure new land for its solid waste operation.

Chiefland Wastewater Supervisor Randy Wilkerson said Monday the land, about 33 acres of pasture located near N.W. Highway 129 and N.W. 130th Street, is being sought in order to "diversify" the city's options when it comes to dealing with waste material.

"We’re trying to get more sites. We don't want to have all our eggs in one basket," Wilkerson said.

The city currently leases two plots for the breaking down of waste material several miles away from the proposed site, but officials want to have another option in case the owner of the plots, Mark Graham, wants to graze cattle or grow hay, both of which require the land to remain unused for waste solids for about a month prior.

Wilkerson said the proposed site, which is still under Florida Department of Environmental Protection review, was used years ago, but the old owner of the land wanted to use it for growing. Food crops require one year of not being used for waste processing before fields can be used.

Wilkerson said the city leases the current plots from Graham for about $300 a month, though adding the new site into the mix will not increase that figure.

"We've been more than fortunate," Wilkerson said.

The city transported by truck about 27 dry tons of waste to the two current sites last year, he said.

An engineer has already surveyed the land, he said, and an application has been sent to the state, but the city is still awaiting final approval from FDEP to include the site as a potential future option for processing waste.

Wilkerson said there were a lot of steps in the process thus far, which has taken about six months. The state has a lot of criteria that has to be met before it will consider land for such uses, he said. And then monthly and yearly testing gets done on the land after it's in use.

"The perception is: Well, there's no houses around, (so) let's do it. No," he said," there's a lot to it."

Note: The City of Chiefland is running a classified advertisement in this week's paper with regard to the addition of this site, as well as procedures for filing a petition, should anyone object.