SEBRING — County commissioners may move a road material stockpile from Highlands Lake Drive to County Road 621, away from residents who have complained.
Commissioners discussed the matter with County Administrator June Fisher during Tuesdays regular board meeting. She and Road & Bridge Supervisor Kyle Green have found a new site on a five-acre tract, but would still need to get permission to move the stockpile from the Highlands County School District, which owns the land.
Highlands Lake Drive residents, including M.J. Boles and Earnest Lee, had raised concerns about high-speed truck traffic and noise, as well as dust creating low visibility on the two-lane road. After talking with them, Fisher said, she and Green began looking for a new location. She found a site behind the Road & Bridge Unit 3 shop on CR 621 that is owned by the School Board of Highlands County.
However, Fisher said, she wanted to make sure commissioners wanted to make the move before she asks permission from the School Board. By consensus, commissioners said Tuesday that would be a good idea.
Commissioner Ron Handley asked if road crews would move the stockpile gradually over the course of two years. Green said he wants to find out how soon and for how long he could use the school district land. The county has already paid this year’s lease on the current site to the Phypers family of Happiness Farms, he said: It’s the annual taxes on the land — approximately $5,000 per year.
Green said he could move the stored culverts and shell rock quickly, but some of the material that’s there might not get used for two or three years.
“Our intention is not to have to relocate all the material that’s there to the new location,” Green said. “We’re going to take it to jobs that we have. We’ve still got reconstruction projects in Lake Placid that we have to do this year.”
Handley asked if the county could just level the sand piles and walk away: “It’s expensive to move.”
Green said it’s a lot of material, brought in from work sites over the years. The owners would have to be OK with that, he said.
“We don’t know for sure what all this is going to entail, but we would use our best judgment on making the cost as minimal as we can,” Green said.
Commissioner Jack Richie, reiterating residents’ concerns for dust and safety, asked if drivers could keep down the dust. Green said he’s asked the supervisor on site to take photographs at random during working hours to provide perspective.
“I can tell you — and this is just me being straight up — when we move our stockpile area, there’s still going to be dust from those bulb fields to the east of the property,” Green said. “That’s where the dust is generated from.”
As for the speed of trucks, he’s told drivers to be careful, but also said the distance between the site entrance and CR 621 is not enough for fully-loaded trucks to reach speeds faster than 30-35 mph. They can’t drive 5 mph, either, he said.
Fisher said she and Green would get on the agenda for an upcoming school board meeting, and would evaluate the costs and time to make a change.