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County to spend $350K expanding, upgrading recycling site

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Raven Wynn tosses bags of garbage into a packing machine at the Pasquotank County convenience center on Wellfield Road, Saturday afternoon. County officials are planning to expand the heavily-trafficked center.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Pasquotank County Solid Waste Department is planning to spend $350,000 to improve and expand its heavily-trafficked recycling site on Wellfield Road.

Solid Waste Director Brad Gardner outlined the project in an interview on Friday. The county is negotiating for 1.85 acres from American Tower, a company owning neighboring property, and then expand and reconfigure the site, he said.

The plan is to shift the recycling center’s entrance toward Wellfield Road and away from the Vickies Ridge subdivision. The end result will be a trash and recyclables drop-off site with a new road and concrete pad, both elevated to reduce muddy conditions at the site, he explained.

Gardner also said one of the current problems with the Wellfield site is that it only has one lane, creating traffic problems for vehicles entering and exiting the site. The county would create a U-shaped road so people enter at one end and exit at another, he said. The layout will be more like the county’s convenience sites in the northern and southern parts of the county, he added.

In expanding the convenience site, Gardner also said the county would have more acreage available as an emergency “lay-down” area. He explained the lay-down area would give the county a place to store excess trash and debris when the landfill is dealing with high volume — such as during the cleanup after a hurricane.

Though the county is planning a costly project, Gardner said it would not require increasing fees or taxes on county residents. The county’s been planning the project for about five years, he said, and will pay for it out of the solid waste department’s fund balance.

Once Pasquotank buys American Tower’s property — an expense estimated at $30,000 to $40,000, Gardner noted — it will look to put the project out for bids and start construction. If all goes well, construction would start in January or February and be completed by the end of June at latest, he added.

During construction, the county also may only accept bagged trash at the site and redirect residents to other sites for other waste, Gardner added.

The Wellfield Road convenience site project also prompted the county to change one of its ordinances.

Pasquotank commissioners unanimously voted last week to amend an ordinance on setbacks for cell towers. The ordinance had required cell towers to be separated from property lines and existing structures by 110 percent of the tower’s height. The requirement was designed to ensure there’s no risk of cell towers falling onto neighboring property.

In reconfiguring the recycling site on Wellfield Road, Pasquotank’s property would be too close to American Tower’s tower. To ensure the county “follows its own rules,” Pasquotank Planning Director Shelley Cox recommended changing the setback distance.

With the change, a cell tower may be as close as 50 percent of the tower’s height to a property line, but must still be separated from existing structures by 110 percent of the tower’s height.

Cox said the changed ordinance should have little impact on county residents, explaining that communications companies are building few new towers in the county.

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