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Mountains of storm trash prove costly

A pile of hurricane debris fills the open space at Rowell’s Waterfront Park, a Monroe County-owned property on Key Largo. Renting private space for temporary storage is expensive, county commissioners will hear Wednesday
A pile of hurricane debris fills the open space at Rowell’s Waterfront Park, a Monroe County-owned property on Key Largo. Renting private space for temporary storage is expensive, county commissioners will hear Wednesday Contributed

Mountains of debris from Hurricane Irma grow in collection sites throughout the Florida Keys, as do trash-storage costs now facing Monroe County.

County commissioners, meeting Wednesday in Marathon for their first full session since the Category 4 hurricane targeted the Keys Sept. 10, will hear that three privately owned properties in the Lower Keys rented as debris-collection sites will cost a combined $7,687 per day.

“The county needed additional staging sites for debris collection and cleanup resulting from Hurricane Irma,” and that will cost $375 per acre, per day, for the properties on Rockland Key, Cudjoe Key and Ramrod Key, county engineer Judith Clarke reported.

Debris-collection space at the Cemex property in Tavernier will cost $80,000 per month, a contract going to the commission says. Rent for part of September will be billed at $48,000.

That is in addition to the use of other sites, including county-owned Rowell’s Waterfront Park on Key Largo.

Commissioners will deal with a number of hurricane-related issues at the 9 a.m. Wednesday session at the Marathon Government Center, including:

▪ A report on damage to the county-owned Pigeon Key, a historic property beneath the old Seven Mile Bridge. “Every structure on the island sustained damage,” an initial summary says. A dock was destroyed, roofs were damaged, and one building at the former railroad camp was knocked off its foundation. The island has been closed to visitors indefinitely.

▪ Formal approval of a resolution that waives permit fees for a number of storm-related repairs to buildings damaged by the hurricane. Those include water and electric permits, stairs, shutters and some storm-damaged drywall.

▪ A change to Monroe County rules on commercial signs, which would allow “placement of temporary signs” during a six-month moratorium on new or permanent replacement signs. The proposed “zoning in progress” rule would give county staff time to draft sign-rule changes.

“The county was already contemplating updating its sign code,” says a report from legal staff. The temporary ban on new permanent signs would help businesses avoid spending money “rebuilding signs ... damaged by Hurricane Irma to a code that may soon be modified or replaced...”

Commissioners also will hear a report from the Florida Department of Transportation on its five-year plan for Monroe County improvements, and discuss ways to allow meetings to be held electronically by county advisory boards.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206

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