The ruling can be read here. (Click on this link.)
Plaintiffs contend that to enter into a contract with any solid waste company to reopen the landfill the city must first hold a public hearing, and consider socio-economic data and alternative sites, on the basis that the currently permitted portion of the landfill is expected to fill to capacity in the next two to six years. The city's Request For Proposals calls for a 15-year contract; any successful bidder would have to obtain additional permitting to continue operating the landfill through the life of the contract.
Supporting the plaintiffs’ key contention, Stone ruled that as a matter of law
Phases II and III of the White Street Landfill are “existing sanitary landfills” as defined by North Carolina General Statute § 160A-325 [and] that Phases IV and V of the White Street Landfill are “new sanitary landfills” as defined by North Carolina General Statute § 160A-325.
A spokesman for Waste Industries has previously argued that the statute did not apply to plans to reopen and expand the White Street Landfill.
The decision of a narrow majority of the council to reopen the landfill has mobilized electoral opposition and an effort to unseat elected officials who favor returning the landfill to service. Part of the acknowledged strategy of landfill opponents is to tie the matter up in litigation until a new council can be seated in December that reverses the political decision to reopen the landfill.
Press release from plaintiffs after the jump:
Judge Enjoins Greensboro City Council From Expanding White Street Landfill
Second Superior Court Judge Finds for Plaintiffs
GREENSBORO, NC – Judge Richard W. Stone granted plaintiffs request for a preliminary injunction this morning, halting the Greensboro City Council’s efforts to expand the White Street Landfill. The order enjoins the city council “from adopting any solid waste management plan that selects or approves a ‘new sanitary landfill’ site… in the White Street Landfill… until the Court has entered a final judgment in this case.”
This is the second Superior Court Judge, after Judge Patrice Hinnant’s June 3 order, to find for the plaintiffs in holding that the Greensboro City Council has not met its statutory obligations.
"The statute was there, all the Greensboro City Council had to do was look at the statute," said Goldie Wells, a leader with the Citizens for Environmental and Economic Justice. "I’m happy our voices are finally being heard."
While the City Council planned to sign a 15- to 30-year contract with Gate City Waste Services or Waste Industries by June 21, 2011, it now cannot adopt such a plan at least until the trial in this case concludes, according to the order. A 15- to 30-year contract would have required the construction of two new phases (Phases IV and V) of the White Street Landfill. These expansions obligate the City Council to consider other sites, hold a public hearing and consider socioeconomic and demographic data under North Carolina General Statute 160A-325. Prior to this order, the Greensboro City Council had not yet fulfilled these obligations despite a letter from SCSJ reminding it of its legal obligations and repeated requests from the community.
The case, which is entitled Jacqueline Neal Ferguson, Roosevelt Ferguson, Betty Crite, Marlina Scales, Lottie Neal, Citizens for Economic and Environmental Justice, and League of Women Voters Piedmont Triad v. Greensboro City Council, features both residents directly impacted by the landfill expanding and residents throughout Greensboro. All Plaintiffs are represented by SCSJ. The case will now proceed to a trial.