Ruling indefinitely delays reopening of White Street Landfill

A ruling today by Guilford County Superior Court Judge Richard W. Stone enjoins the city of Greensboro from entering into a contract with Gate City Waste Services, Waste Industries or any other provider to construct additional phases of the White Street Landfill until a lawsuit is resolved that was filed by landfill opponents.

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.


Max said...

The city should move to set a contract in place for the existing landfill as soon as possible and at a later date look into expanding the landfill, if that is not possible then the tax payers of Greensboro would have saved a large amount of money that is desperately needed. The judge did not rule on the existing landfill so just modify the contract to cover the existing areas that are not part of the ruling.

John BP said...

The decision by the City Council on July 19, 2011 to a limited re-opening of the White Street Landfill to foul-smelling household trash is IRRESPONSIBLE and SHORT-SIGHTED. Period.

1) Lower property values leading to lower revenues to the City.
2) The Landfill is a mere 4 miles from Downtown Greensboro and if the City gets its way to expand it, prepare to smell the unbearable stench at the Seat of Govt on hot summer days. Which forward-looking, growing city does this? Building/expanding a landfill into the heart of the city? Remember: The Landfill is INSIDE the TRANSPORTATION LOOP built around Greensboro.
3) The supposed $3million saving is EXAGGERATED, not taking into account the limited scope, plus the offered discount savings from our current carrier (REPUBLIC), health consequences, pending lawsuit (including the Injunction already granted to the larger expansion), etc.

The decision to re-open is IRRESPONSIBLE and ECONOMICALLY SHORT-SIGHTED. It will not stand.