Letter to Commissioners About Riggs Incinerator

Aerial view of Riggs Road to see the bend and entrance to the property

Good Morning County Commissioners-

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to bring to your attention a conditional use permit application making its way through the process for 11820 Riggs Road. This application will impact homeowners in East Naples and the environment. As of this email I have nearly 200 residents in East Naples that agree this is not a compatible use of this property, it is risky, dangerous, will be noisy, impact air quality and impact the surrounding areas property values.

The application

The Conditional Use (CU) application is to allow operation for horticultural waste resource recovery on the site, including accepting and recycling (crushing) concrete products, installing and operating an air curtain incinerator (ACI) for burning horticultural waste; permitting (short term parking of) tractor trailers; permitting retail sales activities accessory to primary operations; and so forth. We have been told the concrete crushing has since been removed.

The residents of Riggs Road and surrounding property owners have been fighting to maintain a quality of life and safety for their families for over a decade, now is the time to show them you support them!

Air Curtain Incineration

A transfer station to collect and recover mulch is not a traditional farming operation it is more industrial than agriculture farming it is just not compatible to the area.

Negative Impacts

Burning debris, generated from somewhere other than this property, near this neighborhood has negative consequences to the neighbors and is incompatible to the surrounding area. Including: Safety, Health Concerns, Noise, Air Pollution, Fire Danger, and Wildfire threats.

This will no doubt result in emission of smoke and particulates (PM10, CO, NOx, SOx and VOC) into the air and are comparable to the emissions of biomass power plants. These incinerators are known to have visible emissions during the approximately 10-30 minute start-up period before the air curtain is engaged. Also, when new material is added to the firebox, the flow of the air curtain is broken, and the ACI emits smoke. View Report on potential hazards for air quality with incineration – click here.

Air Incinerator Activity

Multiple trucks entering the property various times a day itself is problematic. The aerial image below shows that Riggs Road is a 2 laned roadway that bends prior to the entrance of the property. The volume of traffic and the current layout of the roads here will be a huge safety concern. Think about parents and children going to school, learning to ride their bike or walking the dog, and heavy load trucks entering and exiting the property daily.

The request will cause excessive traffic impacts, heavy trucks in and out daily, create nuisance complaints like noise, air pollution with ash, dust, it will devalue the nearby properties, and interfere with development of properties.

Recent brush fires near this area should also bring a concern for how quickly things change from a small area, (like a request to burn mulch) to a nearly 9000 acre fire. All it takes is one ember to result in catastrophic consequences.

Burned Family Homesite

The photo on the left is from one family in the area that lost everything recently in the wildfire. The origin is unknown, someone mentioned an unextinguished cigarette. But think about any ember from the above incineration device? The residents of Riggs Road, Royal Hammock, Auto Ranch Road, the farming community, Fiddler’s Creek, and so many more. The residents of East Naples deserve better.

History of non-compliance

Prior to your vote, it is important to bring a decade of noncompliance on this property to your attention before you authorize any further activity. The activity they are seeking is not consistent with the intent of agriculture owner farming his or her land onsite. This property is more consistent with an industrial operation, not a farmer.

Complaints range from property being utilized as a transfer station, processing and hauling on and off site, concrete, clearing materials and construction related debris, installation of entrance driveway and culvert without a permit, installation of irrigation and to concrete crushing without permits, operating a recovery facility without State of Florida DEP permit, further open burning onsite.

The average compliance takes 6 months to 18 months to achieve. Hundreds of staff hours are deployed to force the operator of the property to be a good neighbor and operate within the law.

Recent News

Below I have also included recent articles for your review. These are about a similar operation in Fort Myers. As a retired firefighter, I have been on a mulch fire on Riggs Road in my past. Please help the fire department too. This will impact US41 as well, similar to recent fire that shut down I75. Photos from WINKTV news story this week. Is this what we want for US41 East and the surrounding neighbors.

Lee County filed a lawsuit to try to stop them, but it continues. Is this what you want the residents in District 1, visitors from SE Florida and all of Collier County to endure?

Please also note the recent news articles about a similar operation that makes news often:

·         https://www.nbc-2.com/story/42139187/mulch-fire-sparks-at-mw-horticulture-in-north-fort-myers

·         https://www.news-press.com/story/news/2020/05/18/north-fort-myers-fire-i-75/5211433002/

·         https://www.winknews.com/2020/05/18/traffic-in-both-directions-of-i-75-blocked-off-due-to-smoke-from-mw-horticulture-fire/

State Permitting

In speaking to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the office also has had enforcement action on the property. State law requires a permit for a property bringing yard waste that is not generated on the same premise as where it is being burned. So there may be a loophole in the law that you allow for a conditional use with no State permit, and you should require that at a minimum.

Vote NO

Please take a stand on the conditional use application, say NO, it is not compatible with the area. Vote “NO” now and protect them, our environment and our firefighters. Your actions will speak volumes about your commitment to protecting the health and quality of life and safety of the residents.
Respectfully,

William Douglass, Candidate Collier County Commissioner, District 1.

For your reference, here is a historic view of the property

Click here to view chart and letter on mobile device

Reference # Type Status Date Entered
CELU20200004100 Land Use 04/15/2020
Description: Are the activities taking place on the property allowed?
CELU20160016958 Land Use 10/14/2016
Description: Complainant states property being utilized as a transfer station. He states the allowable use is composting only, not processing and hauling on and off site, concrete, clearing materials and construction related debris etc.
CEAU20120002047 Accessory Use 02/08/2012
Description: OPENED IN ERROR
CENA20120000965 Nuisance Abatement 01/20/2012
Description: Unauthorized accumulation of litter consisting of but not limited to: vast waste material, concrete, rebar, ect.
CEROW20120000960 Right of Way 01/20/2012
Description: Right-Of-Way entrance to the property was never permitted, doesn’t have the property culvert and isn’t wide enough for commercial vehicles that go into the property.
CES20120000958 Signs 01/20/2012
Description: Signs placed inside property by entrance “Anna’s Green Acres” “Top Soil”. Are permits required?
CENA20120000699 Nuisance Abatement 01/13/2012
Description: Unauthorized accumulation of litter consisting of but not limited to: yard debris, concrete, ect. duplicate case for CENA20120000965
CENA20110001168 Nuisance Abatement 01/27/2011
Description: Digging to install irrigation system without first obtaining the required permits Large piles of vegetative debris throughout most of the property *New Owner, Refer new case: CENA20120000965*
CELU20100010013 Land Use 07/28/2010
Description: “FLAMINGO NURSERY” – YARD DEBRIS THAT WENT INTO THE STREET. CHARGING FOR LANDFILL AND CONCRETE. NEED TO CHECK OUT PROPERTY.
2006010046 Legacy – Zoning 12/13/2005
Description: [CC_DESC:][CC_DISP:NO VIOLATION]
2004110833 Legacy – Environmental 11/18/2004
Description: [CC_DESC:CLEARED LAND PRIOR TO A SDP/ ACP / OR ACN ORIGINAL CASE 2004101083][CC_DISP:ABATED]
2004101083 Legacy – Environmental 10/28/2004
Description: [CC_DESC:UNIMP. PROP. WHILE ON ROUTE TO PATROL CASE I NOTICED A LARGE LOT WITH PILES OF DEBRIS, GARBAGE AND CUT TREES. RESEARCH REQUIRED. 15 M RC 11-2-04 DR][CC_DISP:ABATED – PER MEA#13.]
2004020967 Legacy – Zoning 02/18/2004
Description: [CC_DESC:CORNER PROP. EAST CORNER — TOO MANY TREES ON THE ROW/SWALE AREA — DOING DITCH ON SITE – ONLY WORKING LATE AT NIGHT – START AROUND 7 P.M. — LITTER, DEBRI, HOLES ON SITE – CONST. TRASH][CC_DISP:]