MASARYKTOWN - Masaryktown, founded last century by Czech immigrants, wants to block plans for a tire-burning power plant proposed for U.S. 41.
At a Tuesday night meeting in the Masaryktown Community Center, 75 residents of the small rural community that straddles the Pasco-Hernando county line plotted to foil the project floated by local landowner Anthony Fraccalvieri.
Fraccalvieri wants to install what he calls a "thermal destruction unit" that each day would destroy up to 200 tons of old tires and 120 tons of cardboard, paper and agricultural waste.
The former pizza parlor owner, who wants to put the plant on 19 acres northeast of U.S. 41 and Fontaine Avenue, said it isn't an incinerator and would produce less smoke than a home fireplace.
To say that neighbors don't trust Fraccalvieri is an understatement.
They said they recall chicken plant and asphalt plant owners promising clean industry and then turning around and fouling the air and placing ugly facilities in their community.
Neighbor Ron Nickerson wasn't just concerned about possible emissions. He was equally wary of how the company would transport and store hundreds of tons of tires.
He told the crowd about the mosquito breeding potential of rainwater trapped in tire cavities and the hazards should lightning start a blaze near the piles of rubber.
"The people who are planning this didn't give us one moment's thought," Nickerson said to general consent.
To defeat the tire-burning center, neighbors said, they will petition officials and weigh in with hard facts. Part of the strategy includes researching such plants on the Internet.
Two rezoning hearings on the plant are scheduled: 1:30 p.m. July 9 before the Pasco County Planning Commission and 6:30 p.m. July 29 before the Pasco County Commission. Both take place at the historic courthouse in Dade City.
Many residents concluded that a successful fight means highlighting opposition from residents on the Pasco side of the border. Others disagreed, calling such a plant a general nuisance that transcends boundaries.
"I lived in Pennsylvania near a rubber-burning plant, and you had the taste in your mouth all day. It's putrid," said Virginia Ver, a retiree who lives a half-mile from the proposed plant.
Fraccalvieri said his 24-hour-a-day operation, incorporated under the name Pasco County Synergy LLC, would use tried-and-true technology. Hospitals and aircraft carriers use similar high-temperature machines to dispose of waste.
As for other potential disruptions, he said he will avoid unsightly piles and limit truck traffic. "It's not going to be a constant stream of trucks," he told the St. Petersburg Times.
Pasco County Synergy would chip the tires into 1- or 2-inch pieces, feed them as fuel into the thermal destruction unit and harness the heat to power electricity-generating turbines. The company would sell the power to the electric grid.
Neighbors promised to form a united front that Pasco commissioners would have a hard time ignoring.
"We will win this thing, guys; we will take this thing down," Nickerson said. "Because we're not going to stand for this."
- James Thorner covers growth and development for Pasco County. He can be reached at 813 909-4613 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4613. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org