NEW PORT RICHEY — The push by Angelo's Aggregate Materials to build a politically unpopular landfill in east Pasco could be gaining momentum with state officials.
Over lunch Tuesday, County Commissioner Ted Schrader took what he called a "disturbing" phone call regarding the Iafrate family, which owns the company and is seeking a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
"Apparently the Iafrates, Angelo's Aggregate, has been busy in Tallahassee," Schrader said. "Apparently DEP may be siding with the Iafrates to approve their permit as early as this week."
State officials rejected the company's proposed 90-acre landfill in 2009, citing the risk that a sinkhole could open below the landfill and send poisonous waste into the drinking water aquifers and the nearby Green Swamp. The company is appealing that decision.
But earlier this month, the company cut the initial size of the landfill to 30 acres and said further study of nearby landfills shows the risk is minimal.
DEP spokeswoman Jennifer Diaz said Tuesday afternoon that "Angelo's has submitted additional information, and DEP is currently reviewing that information." She said there is no timeline for when the department could make a decision.
Schrader's announcement Tuesday sent board members and the county's attorneys scrambling to register their opposition.
"We need to make sure our voice on this matter is heard in Tallahassee," said County Attorney Jeff Steinsnyder, citing a changeover in staff under the administration of Gov. Rick Scott.
Though the county has not taken a position on the DEP permit, several commissioners have said they think the proposed landfill is a bad idea.
Schrader noted that when Angelo's first proposed the landfill, Pasco did not have enough capacity at its waste-to-energy facility in Shady Hills. That issue has been solved, he said, by sending some trash to other facilities in the Tampa Bay area.
"I don't believe there's a need (for the landfill)," he said.
Even if Angelo's secures the environmental permit, it would still face a long battle to build its landfill. It would need to persuade the County Commission to change the property's zoning classification from agricultural/residential to public or semi public. A 2009 change to the county comprehensive plan underscored that landfills can only be built on those types of property.
The company appealed that decision, but an administrative judge ruled in favor of the county in December.