Site of Gabbert Waste Transfer Facility
The site is immediately next to the highway, bounded by thin, fragile Porter Road on the west, and equally narrow Palmer Blvd. on the North. In the distance is the gorgeous mound and wetland area of the Celery Fields, an internationally known bird habitat. A home or way-station to over 225 species of birds, this area is so prized by bird lovers, recreationalists and tourists that that the Audubon Society spent over $1 million to build a nature center there.
Behind the row of trees lies a 10.6-acre parcel of public land, which Gabbert once wanted to buy to build a full-blown unenclosed waste processing facility. The citizens came out in August 2017 in droves to oppose that scheme, and the proposal was voted down (but supported by Commissioners Maio and Moran). But the six-acre waste transfer station - a facility that essentially serves as a temporary dump where waste is moved from small vehicles to large trucks - was approved by the County in 2015. Gabbert has revised his plan a number of times, and it is very close to getting final approval. Word is, that will come in February.
Waste transfer operation at a facility
designed and built,
but no longer operated,
by James Gabbert
In order for this to happen, the Board had to violate its own ordinance as well as a Federal law.
In recognition of I-75 as an area of critical concern, all critical area plans within the I-75 Critical Area of Concern shall be consistent with the following where applicable:
(m) a positive image for I-75 through the establishment of quality development within a park-like setting.
Further, the Board approved Gabbert's WTF in violation of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which among other things aimed to beautify highways by screening or forbidding junkyards:
The act called for control of outdoor advertising, including removal of certain types of signs, along the nation's growing Interstate Highway System and the existing federal-aid primary highway system. It also required certain junkyards along Interstate or primary highways to be removed or screened and encouraged scenic enhancement and roadside development. Highway Beautification Act
Despite (or because of) the dirty tricks, Waechter wields considerable political clout. As former head of the local Republican Party, he has participated in redrawing electoral districts to ensure Republican control of the Board of Commissioners, which appoints the Planning Commission. He is also closely involved with the Charter Review Board. His close associate, developer and waste king James Gabbert, has long been a member of that Board.
Waechter and Gabbert has worked diligently to put Al Maio and Mike Moran on the Board - and most recently have backed Christian Ziegler, who replaced the independent-minded Paul Caragiulo.