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Geraci drops bid for incinerator in Lutz

A plan to burn trees and yard waste ran “into a buzzsaw” of opposition said a Hillsborough commissioner.
Kristen Woodruff, with Woodruff Law, is pictured standing in center and on the tv screens as she addresses the commissioners during the public comment section of a meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission Thursday on a proposed yard waste incinerator in Lutz. Friday, Louis Geraci LLLP withdrew its application for the incinerator.
Kristen Woodruff, with Woodruff Law, is pictured standing in center and on the tv screens as she addresses the commissioners during the public comment section of a meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission Thursday on a proposed yard waste incinerator in Lutz. Friday, Louis Geraci LLLP withdrew its application for the incinerator. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Aug. 19|Updated Aug. 20

A proposed yard waste incinerator in Lutz has gone up in smoke.

The Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission said Friday that Louis Geraci LLLP has withdrawn its permit application to put a pair of incinerators on Crystal Lake Road.

“I have no doubt the show of opposition from the community was instrumental in showing the Geracis they were running into a buzz saw,” said Commissioner Mariella Smith.

County commissioners, sitting as the board of the Environmental Protection Commission, voted unanimously Thursday to kill the permit application. Doing so, however, did not guarantee an end to the controversy. The commission acts as a contracted agent for the state Department of Environmental Protection in considering air pollution permits and failing to act would have allowed the permit to be issued automatically by the state, said Rick Muratti, attorney for the Environmental Protection Commission.

The commission action came after scores of Lutz residents objected to the proposal noting the site on Crystal Lake Road east of N Dale Mabry Highway was near Idlewild Baptist Church, an adult living facility and residential neighborhoods. They expressed concern about air pollutants affecting their children, senior citizens and people with health issues.

“This was an ill-thought-out plan that did not take into account the health, safety and well-being of the residents of this community and beyond,” said Jennifer Messer, who said she and her family live three quarters of a mile from the site.

The permit application, signed by Peter Geraci, sought permission to install a pair of 40-foot-long metal incinerators to dispose of 22,000 tons of trees and yard waste annually during 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week burning.

Air pollutants would have included smoke, carbon monoxide and so-called volatile organic compounds that are man-made chemicals.

In voting to stop working on the application, commissioners said they would relay their own concerns to state environmental regulators and consider possible changes in permissible land uses for the property.

Geraci representative Lynn Robinson, a senior engineer at Montrose Environmental Solutions in Plant City, did not immediately return a cellphone message Friday afternoon.

“It’s good that they listened to the meeting,” said Commissioner Harry Cohen. “This has tremendous opposition in the community and on the Board of County Commissioners. If they withdrew the application, they probably read the situation correctly.”

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