Viewpoint: All Pits are Monitored Equally

From Escambia County Commissioner Wilson Robertson: I would like to correct some errors and misleading statements in Jaime Page’s article in the August 12 story about how the county regulates borrow pits. First of all, violations in the county ordinances are investigated by County Environmental Code Enforcement Officers, not county commissioners. A county our size has literally thousands of complaints annually. Code enforcement does not have the resources to be proactive, so they investigate for violations as complaints are registered throughout the county.

As for the six borrow pits Jaime sites, until recently only one had any complaints registered against it, the Green Fill Dirt Pit off Blossom Trail. These investigations have been going on for many years, long before I was elected County Commissioner.

Finally, last month after many complaints and citations, a Special Magistrate issued a Cease and Desist Order after conducting a thorough hearing with evidence presented by Mr. Green and a County Code Enforcement Officer. This hearing cost the taxpayers $1,100. The commissioners’ only conflict with our attorney’s advice was to enforce the Cease and Desist Order now rather than wait for an additional court hearing which could take months.

Our commission has always tried to carry out the orders of a Special Magistrate; otherwise, we don’t need to be spending $1,100 of taxpayer money to have these cases heard. If any other borrow pit is investigated and is operating illegally, I believe any Special Magistrate will render the same opinion and our county will carry out their orders. All citizens should be treated equally.

The real story in Jamie’s article should not have been how Mr. Green was operating a borrow pit, but all the evidence that showed the illegal dumping that was going on in this pit. Our commissioners are not nearly as concerned about a borrow pit as we are about allowing another Saufley Landfill to occur.

The Green Fill Dirt Pit is located near the headwaters of Marcus Creek that residents have complained for years is contaminating Crescent Lake – and this is the rest of the story.