Landfill developer appeals to Supreme Court

Published 3:46 pm Thursday, November 17, 2011

Even as a two-year moratorium on new landfills in Alabama continues, the legal wrangling over a potential massive landfill in Conecuh County is also ongoing.

Attorneys for Conecuh Woods LLC, the landfill developer, and the Conecuh County Commission, which voted 3-2 to approve the landfill last spring, are seeking a judgment from the state Supreme Court which would compel a lower court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the project. The defendants filed their appeal Nov. 9.

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A circuit judge ruled in October in favor of the plaintiffs, led by the Town of Repton, which is located just miles from the landfill site. The cities of Brewton and Atmore, town of Flomaton and Escambia County have joined the lawsuit as well.

Judge Burt Smithart — appointed to the case after local judges recused themselves — had denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss, which compelled them to provide discovery and begin depositions in the case. The defendants filed a motion to stay but were denied.

Conecuh Woods argued in its motion to stay the discovery process that “disclosure of private business information from the parties is at issue, and threatens injury to Conecuh Woods.”

In addition, a federal magistrate, ruling in a similar lawsuit filed by grassroots group Citizens for a Clean Southwest Alabama, recommended that that case be dismissed at the federal level and remanded to the circuit court in Conecuh County.

In court filings, the defendants have argued that the administrative process of approval for the landfill is not complete — and, in fact, will not be complete until at least May 2013, because the state Legislature passed a moratorium on the development of new large landfills.

The defendants have also argued”

• “That circuit courts lack the authority to supervise the actions of county and regional commissions in the performance of advisory functions set by the Solid Wastes Act,” according to the petition to the Supreme Court.

• That there is no implied injury to the plaintiffs because there is no “imminent operation” of the landfill because the approvals process is not complete.