County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who was tasked to put together the report that was up for approval resulting in an analysis of different locations for the new incinerator plant, could veto the recommendation made by the commission.
Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who represents the area, proposed the motion to select Doral as the site to build the new plant. Vice Chairman Oliver Gilbert moved the proposal, Commissioner Kionne McGhee seconded it, and it was approved unanimously without discussion.
“Please, please, please keep the new facility out of Doral,” Odell Torres, a resident of the city, beseeched county commissioners prior to an unscheduled vote selecting the municipality as the location for a new county waste-to-energy facility to replace the 1982 existing plant in Doral reaching the end of its useful land.
As of Tuesday, July 26th, the mayor was still reviewing the matter, a spokesperson for her office confirmed in a text message to Miami Today.
The preliminary siting alternatives report, completed by consultant Arcadis, shortlisted four locations for a new plant: at the existing site, at the Town of Medley, and two other locations at Ingraham Highway. Further analysis was proposed by the company.
Mayor Levine Cava made no recommendation on the memorandum accompanying the consultant’s report but did request “for the opportunity to conduct community outreach with respect to the potential sites as we move forward.”
The county commission still has many votes ahead for the project to be fully approved and ready to be completed, including the award of the new contract, a lease agreement, and the approval for the purchase after procurement of major equipment.
Completion of a new facility in Doral would take 7 years and 9 months, while the alternative relocation in the Town of Medley would take 9 years and 9 months, according to the preliminary report from Arcadis.
“Medley is the solution to the problem,” said Carlos Pereira, a candidate for the Doral City Council.
“I got three pages of reasons as to why that site has to be done,” said Chairman Diaz as he presented the motion selecting the Doral location.
He argued the property where the new facility would stand is already paid for, and all the permits and reviews are already completed.
“The residents of Doral and Miami-Dade County deserve a fair process, not a hurried decision on something so important,” Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez told the Miami Herald after the vote.
“I want to implore all of you up on this dais to please, please follow what the mayor suggests in her memo, which is to do community outreach, understand what the residents of Doral are going through,” said Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich, president of the Doral Community Coalition, prior to the approval of the motion.
The consultant’s report says that the Doral site already has all required utilities of infrastructure available, whereas the Medley location would require at least installation of electric and natural gas.
Building a new facility in Doral has a $1.45 billion estimated capital cost, while the Medley facility would require $48.3 million in additional capital cost, a 4.2% increase when compared to the Doral site. The documents notes that both locations have air permitting challenges and have good access to major roads.
The report notes that the existing Doral site is less than a tenth of a mile from the nearest residential zoning and that community political leaders and environmental groups have expressed their opposition to the site. The Medley facility, the document notes, is directly adjacent to residential zoning and may face community opposition in the future as well.
“Relocating this facility to the site one [Medley] proposed by the report is not only extremely costly for the taxpayers, but in a few years, we will be facing what we are facing today because of the population growth,” said Juan Carlos Esquivel, a resident of Doral.
Other residents were not only opposed to the Doral location but to the construction of a new incinerator plant.
“Our county should be thinking about moving to zero waste policies that will help us and everybody else,” said Sebastian Caicedo of nonprofit Florida Rising. “Miami-Dade County has a great opportunity to be a leader to all to have this fight and move towards zero waste policies, which will create more jobs or reduce harm to our communities.”
“Let’s use this money that’s coming from taxpayer dollars to invest in new ideas that’s better for all communities in Miami-Dade and in Doral and in Medley, and better solutions that are better for the land and that aren’t polluting or causing more harm to community members,” said MacKenzie Marcelin, climate justice manager for Florida Rising.