H-SANTA MARIA

Mar 22, 2012 2:49 AM by Ariel Wesler

City will consider further studies before deciding on recycling facility

The Santa Maria Planning Commission said it will not make a decision on a controversial recycling center until city staff determines whether further studies are necessary.

SA Recycling wants to build the facility near Fesler and Depot streets. Last month, the planning commission postponed its decision on whether to approve the facility until a traffic study could be conducted.

It was an emotionally charged Wednesday evening at city hall with some heated debate at times. The community spoke out in both English and Spanish with the help of a translator. The majority were against the project, citing concerns about increased traffic, the safety of their children as well as extra noise and pollution.

It was a small victory for opponents of the project, who argue more studies are necessary before any decision can be made on a controversial metal recycling facility.

"Any environmental impact is really going to hurt our students and our families walking to school and coming back," said Feliciano Agular with PUEBLO, an advocate for the Hispanic community.

Besides the current traffic study, many in the community want SA Recycling to do a full environmental impact report.

"If this was in your neighborhood, we wouldn't even be discussing it," one man said to commissioners.

"I don't know how the public is supposed to be able to evaluate the application and make comments on it when a lot of things haven't been done yet," said another speaker.

Project planners have said the recycling facility will no more of an impact than the current auto wrecking yard on the property.

"There has been no evidence, scientific, substantial, empirical evidence that shows that sa recycling is going to have a more significant impact than what's already existed out there," said

There were a few supporters who believe the project will beautify the community and the intersection of Fesler and Depot, considered among the most dangerous in Santa Maria.

"These people are willing to fix the intersection, so please consider it," one man said.

"I think the beauty of the neighborhood will change and the whole neighborhood can pick up," said another woman.

Some people considered Wednesday night's meeting to be premature because the traffic study has not been completed yet. In the meantime, the issue has been taken off the agenda, so the city can take time to consider the community's concerns and conduct additional studies, if necessary.

SA Recycling is the largest recycling company on the West Coast. It already has a facility in Paso Robles.

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