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Ocala OKs change allowing landfill to seek expansion in black neighborhood

Residents packed the City Council chamber in Ocala for a hearing on a code change enabling a landfill to seek expansion. Photo: Joe Byrnes

Against the advice of city staff and the urging of northwest Ocala residents, the city has approved a code change that could allow a construction and debris landfill to expand.

Ocala council members stressed the need to bring the Friends Recycling landfill into agreement with the city’s code. Then the city can set rules for things like the landfill’s height.

“I would love to turn back time and ensure this never existed in the first place, but unfortunately that’s not available to me today,” said Councilman Justin Grabelle. “What’s available to me today is either to reject this ordinance or accept this ordinance. In rejecting it, it still stays open.”

But the code change they approved Tuesday night also gives the old landfill a pathway to expand outward. Before, it could operate only within its current boundaries.

The landfill is down the street from a historically African-American subdivision. It’s also near the future sites of a community center and a one-thousand-home development.

Residents packed the meeting room and urged the four councilmen not to make the code change.

They approved it unanimously.

Resident F.L. Brown stressed the need for council members to listen.

“I think we should contact each and every representative and see how they feel about it,” Brown said after the meeting. “And then, guess what? The next time it’s election up, we know who to vote for.”

Friends Recycling plans to come back to the city for the zoning changes it wants.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.