Wheelabrator's North Broward Waste-to-Energy plant
The first shot was fired last week at Oakland Park City Hall in a brewing rebellion among Broward cities over the high cost of garbage disposal.
County officials have offered a proposal they say will save the cities nearly $49 million a year over what they now pay to get rid of their trash – plus get them a share of a $12 million bonus that giant Waste Management is willing to pay if they sign up early for another 10 years.
But some outraged city leaders say those contract renewal savings are not nearly enough.
They contend that Waste Management has used its local trash monopoly to make enormous profits on the backs of Broward customers and they fault the county’s Resource Recovery Board – and RRB chair and Broward Commissioner Ilene Lieberman – for not moving to end that monopoly by putting the $1.5 billion deal out for competitive bids.
UPDATE: May 19: Fort Lauderdale’s zoning board voted this evening to hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on May 27 to decide whether to approve First Presbyterian Church’s controversial expansion plans.
UPDATE, MAY 18: Wednesday’s expected vote by the Fort Lauderdale zoning board on First Presbyterian Church’s controversial expansion plans has been delayed. The reason: city officials have learned there won’t be enough board members on hand to make a quorum. The board’s next regular meeting is June 16, but a special meeting could be convened before then, said city spokesman Chaz Adams. Broward Bulldog will post the date and time when it’s announced.
By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org
Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Romney Rogers has been on the job little more than a year, but today he’s the man to watch in a high-profile zoning fight between expansion-minded First Presbyterian Church and its angry neighbors.
Rogers’s district includes historic Colee Hammock – home to the church and hundreds of nearby homeowners.
Church leaders argue $20 million in new buildings are desperately needed to fulfill the church’s ministry. The Colee Hammock Homeowners Association says the buildings are too massive and will disrupt the neighborhood and depress property values. They also fear that the church wants to use the buildings to open a school – something the church has denied.
The zoning board is expected to decide whether to recommend the project to the commission at its May 19 meeting. The board postponed a decision last month when an overflow crowd of speakers for and against caused a meeting to run past 1 a.m.
People on both sides want to know whose side Rogers is on. That’s because he’ll likely account for two of the five votes that will ultimately decide who wins — his own and Mayor Jack Seiler’s. Seiler’s general policy is to follow the lead of district commissioners on votes in their backyard.
As oil continues to gush from a severed pipeline on the Gulf of Mexico seabed, a consortium of law firms stretching from Fort Lauderdale to Texas is preparing for its own kind of cleanup.
The first wave of more than a half-dozen lawsuits landed in federal court in New Orleans last week – one week after the disaster began with an explosion and fire aboard the oil rig Deepwater Horizon 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The rig sank two days later.
“I suspect there will be thousands of lawsuits,” said Broward lawyer Walter G. “Skip” Campbell, who plans to file suit this week in New Orleans on behalf of gulf shrimp and oyster farmers.
To date, authorities have said they can’t choke off the flow of an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day that’s pouring from the damaged pipe and rising nearly a mile to the surface. An enormous, still-growing oil slick threatens economic interests and wildlife habitat for hundreds of miles of coastline from Louisiana to Florida.