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Changes made to landfill permit laws

It is my pleasure to inform the public that in September of 20l6, Gov. Bentley created a Solid Waste Management Task Force which focused on Landfill Permitting Laws.

Rep. Alan Baker (task force chairman) and Sen. Greg Albritton were members, and most all solid waste/recycling companies were represented on this task force. Also on this task force were representatives from the Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission (John Clyde Riggs), Auburn University, Alabama League of Municipalities (Mayor Terri Carter) and the governor’s appointee, Don Smith.

We met from November 20l6 until February/March 20l7, and House Bill 328 was created! This bill passed the House in April and the Senate on May 17, 20l7. The bill has now been forwarded to Gov. Kay Ivey to be signed into law.

Thank you to all those who fought diligently over the years to bring awareness to this issue and to the task force members for working together! A special thanks to Rep. Baker, Sen. Albritton, Executive ATRC Director Riggs and Mr. Smith.

Please see the following changes to new landfill applications (this will not include existing sites. modifications and onsite industrial):

• “The time frame from beginning to end for a local governing body’s approval process has changed from 90 days with an automatic approval if no vote is taken, to a time frame of approximately 120 days, and a vote must be taken.

• The applicant now must include the following written documents with the landfill application:

1. Address the criteria already in place.

2. Define the applicant’s experience of owning and/or operating a landfill.

3. Information relating to the applicant’s financial resources including their investors or corporate affiliates.

4. Show any pending or past civil or criminal actions brought against the applicant and/or investors by any governmental entity.

5. Any other information the applicant deems needed to help the governing body in making their decision.

• After the formal application is accepted at the next regularly scheduled meeting of said local governing body:

1. Within 10 days, all adjacent landowners to the proposed site must be notified by certified mail. General public must be notified by newspaper ads and radio PSAs, and it must be posted on the governmental body’s website if a website exits. These notifications must include description of applicant information and approval process; the criteria that must be addressed; and governmental contact person for additional information and the location where this information can be obtained. This information will include the full application, the local solid waste management plan, time frame for public involvement and where the public can send written comments.

2. Within 30 days, the applicant at their own expense, must have a public awareness meeting. This meeting bust be advertised by print and radio. One representative from the local governing body must be present at the meeting.

3. Within 45 days, the local governing body must hold a public hearing and within 30 days afterwards a vote must be taken.

• If a favorable vote is made by the local governing body, the application normally moves to the local regional planning commission for a “Letter of Consistency.” However, we know from our experience that this “Letter” has no real meaning. Therefore, the RPC’s obligation has been removed. Instead, the application with all pertinent documentation will automatically move to the circuit court to be examined. The court will issue a declaratory judgement as to whether or not the governing body, applicant and documentation have followed the process according to the law. If it has not, the application is returned to the governing body. The applicant may have the opportunity to mitigate the discrepancies and/or the governing body may have the opportunity to correct whatever issue is found or allow the application to die. If the declaratory judgement is favorable, the application will then move forward to ADEM for final approval.

In Repton’s dump fight, our citizens and surrounding areas had to raise approximately $1 million to take this issue to the courts to prove that the past county commission/ applicant did not follow the law.

I am thankful to God, this task force, the House, Senate and soon, the governor for watching out for the people of this great state of Alabama.

Have a great day and God bless!

Mayor Terri B. Carter

Repton