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The Taft City Council last week approved the first reading of changes in the city's ordinance governing recycling centers in the city.

The changes are designed to give the city more control over permitting recycling facilities near residential areas.

The process started almost two years ago when Planning Director Mark Staples made a informational presentation to the council after the largest operator of small recycling facilities, rePlanet, closed all of its smaller facilities.

In addition, the city was already having issues with recycling facilities in or near residential areas.

A proposal to put a new recycling center in Pilot Plaza where one was closed several years ago was tabled in 2020 by the Taft Planning Commission. Several people living in the area wrote letters protesting the plan.

The existing ordinance requires all recycling centers in the city to have a conditional use permit, which gives the city greater control of a permit.

The new ordinance would continue that but also keep any small recycling center at least 500 feet away from the nearest residence and "in conjunction with an existing commercial use, industrial use, or public facility."

In addition, they would be allowed to accept only glass, metal and beverage containers and have no power driven processing equipment except for reverse vending machines.

Small recycling centers will also be limited to no more than 500 square feet in size.