Permitting process continues for waste transfer facility near Celery Fields

Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued two permits needed for construction but TST Ventures awaiting approval of county applications

This is the concept plan for the waste transfer station as approved by the County Commission in October 2015. County staff has told the News Leader that TST Ventures has to adhere to the facets of the plan, as required by county land development regulations. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Plans are proceeding for a waste transfer station near the Celery Fields, The Sarasota News Leader learned this week.

The owner of the business — James Gabbert of Sarasota — has received the necessary state permits for the site work.

In an April 30 email, Dee Ann Miller, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), told the News Leaderthat the department had issued the Environmental Resource Protection and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to Gabbert. However, she added, “[N]o application for the solid waste permit has yet been submitted.”

Gabbert is waiting on several permits from county staff.

On April 12, an application was submitted to the county for a commercial office building as part of the Palmer Transfer Station project, Mark Loveridge, the county’s land development manager, wrote in an April 30 email in response to a News Leader inquiry about the status of the TST Ventures plans.

The applicant officially is Rykin Construction Services LLC of Boleyn Road in Sarasota County, according to a News Leader search of county permitting records. “[The application] is under review at this time with comments due on May 24, 2019,” Loveridge added in his email.

The online permitting materials say the value of the construction would be $365,000.

An aerial map shows the proposed location of the waste recycling facility, outlined in red. Image from the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office

Then, on April 30, TST Ventures applied for a permit to install three new “motor truck scales,” noting the value of that project would be $60,000. Those scales would be needed to weigh the trucks carrying the waste materials, based on Gabbert’s testimony prior to his winning County Commission approval for the project in October 2015.

The review of the latter application is due to be completed on June 12, the document says.

Additionally, in its search of county permitting records, the News Leader found that an application was submitted in February for the construction of the 8-foot-tall precast concrete wall around the facility, as detailed in the site plans. The value of that construction was put at $113,600, with Permacast LLC of Bradenton listed as the company that would undertake the work. The most recent notation on that application shows that it failed a staff drainage review.

The staff comment said, “No boundary and topographic survey noted in the permit packet. Survey must be signed and sealed by a Florida Registered Surveyor and Mapper. Please provide a site plan of scale capable to review the wall and post footing locations in relation to any or all easements. Plan has a note the lot drainage is the responsibility of the owner. Drainage is part of the application process for the permit. Please note how lot drainage will be handled, will the wall have a panel gap at the base or scuppers and openings.”

This engineering drawing for the Palmer Transfer Station offers additional details about the plans. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The most recent staff remarks on that application — entered on April 25 — said the prior comments about the survey and the “site plan with scale to determine location in relation to lot lines or easements with dimension to footings, concrete poured or wall panels” still had not been addressed. The notation added, “Corrections Required.”

On April 1, in response to a News Leaderrequest for an update, Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester also reported that, as of that date, TST Ventures had filed for two utility permits — involving fire and water lines — and those also were under review, too.

On Jan. 31, Sarasota County staff issued the primary permit for the Palmer Transfer Station to Weber Engineering and Surveying of Sarasota, agent for Gabbert’s firm, TST Ventures.

The Palmer Transfer Station is slated to be built on property located at 6150 Palmer Blvd., which is next to the county’s “Quads” parcels. Those, in turn, stand adjacent to the Celery Fields, a county stormwater project that has become an internationally known bird-watching park.

The 6150 Palmer Blvd. site comprises about 4.27 acres. It is located at the intersection of Porter Road and Palmer Boulevard, just east of Interstate 75.

This aerial map shows the proximity of the Gabbert property to the county’s ‘Quads’ parcels. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Gabbert originally planned to combine the waste transfer station project with a construction and yard waste recycling center on the Southwest Quad. However, advocates for the Celery Fields led a series of protests against the recycling facility and urged the county commissioners to deny Gabbert’s petitions for its construction. Gabbert had planned to purchase the Southwest Quad from the county if he won commission approval for the project.

The county’s Planning Commission voted to recommend the County Commission deny the petitions, largely out of concerns related to what members of that board characterized as a road network inadequate to support Gabbert’s plans.

Then-County Commissioner Paul Caraguilo cited the same worries during the August 2017 County Commission public hearing on Gabbert’s petitions. The County Commission ultimately voted 3-2 against the project, with only Commissioners Alan Maio and Michael Moran voicing support for it.

The FDEP action

An engineering drawing in the site plans shows these details about trucks that will be coming to the facility and traffic flow. Image courtesy Sarasota County

As for the FDEP permits: On May 28, 2016, TST Ventures received its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which the company needed for construction activities on the Palmer Boulevard parcel. That permit will expire on May 27, 2021, a member of FDEP’s NPDES Stormwater Program wrote in a June 2, 2016 letter addressed to Gabbert.

TST Ventures applied for that permit on May 25, 2016, according to another FDEP document. On the form, the box for “Small Construction” was marked, indicating the project would “disturb between 1 and 4.99 acres of land …” On a separate line, the application noted that the “[a]pproximate total area of land disturbance from commencement through completion of construction” would be 2.34 acres.

Gabbert, who signed the application as manager of TST Ventures, indicated the start date of the work would be May 2016, with completion in June 2017.

In regard to the second FDEP permit: On June 5, 2018, the department issued an Environmental Resource Permit (ERP) to TST Ventures for the construction of “a solid waste management facility.” That permit will expire on June 5, 2023, the document says.

The project description explains that the permit covers “the construction and use of stormwater management system consisting of drainage inlets, swales and one dry retention stormwater treatment basin.”