A Gulfport businessman's plan to start a local tire recycling business has hit a snag over questions from Gulfport's zoning board.
William Earl Brown is now in discussions with the board about obtaining zoning variations for the projected Gulfport Tire Recycling facility on Giles Road in Gulfport.
``This is the first tire recycling firm in southern Mississippi, so the decision hasn't been made as to what zoning area the operation goes into,'' Mr. Brown said. (There are long-standing recycling operations in other parts of the state, including Rouse Rubber Industries Inc. in Vicksburg.)
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality estimates that southern Mississippi generates about 600,000 scrap tires annually, and about 80 percent of those go to landfills, Mr. Brown said. While he did not say who his prospective customers were, Mr. Brown said he plans to shred some 800,000 tires annually for the recycling market.
``The department (of Environmental Quality) said we could accept 25 percent of our tires from out of state,'' he added.
Mr. Brown has applied to the Mississippi DEQ for a grant for supporting funds for the project, and the department is reviewing the application, according to Mark Williams, administrator of the department's solid waste management branch.
Mr. Williams wasn't sure how much money Mr. Brown had asked for, but said he believed it was several hundred thousand dollars.
``You can apply for however much you want, but that doesn't mean you're going to get all of it,'' he added.
When operational, Gulfport Tire Recycling will employ six inside the plant and 10-20 tire collectors, according to Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown said he will talk to the board ``two or three times a week'' until he gets his zoning permit.
``The building already exists,'' he said. ``We'd like to see equipment there in 90 days, but if I gave you an exact date, it would just be a stab in the dark. All I can say is, the company will be operating as soon as possible.''