|Company seeks medical waste incineration facility here|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Thursday, 29 March 2012 14:24|
A Pennsylvania-based corporation has plans to begin constructing a medical waste incineration facility north of the Walmart Distribution Center within the coming year.
Integrated Waste Management Systems, Inc. has filed a draft application for permits from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as well as a draft development agreement with the Baker County planning department.
Both documents are incomplete, informal or otherwise not in their final form for consideration by either state regulators or the Baker County Commission, which will hold hearings on the proposed development next month.But, according to the draft development agreement, the project is expected to bring 59 jobs to the county initially, and as many as 100 in the long term.
Jacksonville lobbyist Alberta Hipps represents Integrated Waste Management Systems as well as an affiliated company, Bio-Haz Solutions, Inc., which transports medical waste in the northeastern US and recently opened a transfer station on the north side of Jacksonville.
Ms. Hipps said Integrated Waste Management Systems wants to construct the so-called “Bio-Medical Thermal Reduction Facility” as soon as possible and “bring employees on board by the end of 2013” or sooner. She described the proposed facility as “state-of-the-art,” saying it could serve as a model for the medical waste disposal industry.
Medical waste includes bodily tissue and blood as well as anything that comes into contact with them like hypodermic needles.
Ms. Hipps explained the company, which was formed in 2010, has no history of building or operating such a facility. She said the proposed project is the result of a decision by the company to build a new facility “from the ground up” to comply with more stringent environmental regulations established by the federal government in 2009 rather than retrofit an existing facility.
The project is being planned on 24 acres owned by the Baker County Development Commission at the north end of Enterprise East Boulevard. The company intends to construct some 92,800 square feet of building space, a 162-space parking lot and storm water retention facilities.
The buildings are expected to include a 50,000-square-foot structure housing the incinerator and a smoke stack of no more than 100 feet tall, which will require an approved height variance from the county, some 10,000 square feet of office space and another 22,000 square feet for future expansions, the draft development agreement shows.
Darryl Register, director of the Baker County Development Commission, stressed this week that the success of the project hinges largely on the approval of a roughly $500,000 grant from the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity.
The funds, he said, would allow the county to build an access road to the site, an incentive without which the company may not move ahead with the project.
County commissioners inked an agreement earlier this month with TerraPointe LLC, a subsidiary of Rayonier Corp., to accept an easement from the timber company on which the road may be constructed.
Other potential development incentives include tax breaks from the state based on employee wages as well as some $22 million in tax-free construction bonds that could be authorized by the development commission, said Mr. Register.
“That makes their borrowing a little cheaper,” he said.
The draft development agreement to be considered by county commissioners at hearings on April 3 and 16 also calls for expedited permitting and the waiving of some development fees the company would otherwise have to pay under the county’s land development regulations.
Ms. Hipps said the company was also drawn to consider the Baker County site because of its easy access to the interstate and larger transportation network.
“We thought it was a really good fit for us and the community,” she said. “We expect at least 40 percent of the business to come from the Jacksonville area ... and we also foresee being able to access customers in south Georgia and down to the middle part of the state.”
In addition to the public hearings next month on the proposed development agreement, company representatives will be meeting with residents living near the project site at 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 29 at 55 N. 3rd St. in Macclenny.
“They want to provide as many opportunities for the community to come forward and ask questions as possible,” said Janet Herrick, a consultant with Onsite Environmental Consulting of Jacksonville, who’s doing public outreach for the project.