Landfill bill signed Tuesday

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday signed into law a bill that would set a two-year moratorium on new large landfills — including the proposed Conecuh Woods landfill near Repton.

That landfill gained local approval earlier this spring, despite strong opposition against it not only in Conecuh County, but also in surrounding cities and counties.

Conecuh County commissioners approved the landfill application in a 3-2 vote in April.

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State Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, had sponsored the moratorium legislation, which was similar to an executive order signed by the governor earlier this year.

The executive order also banned new large landfills until the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Alabama Department of Public Health could review the application process.

Baker’s bill took the moratorium a step further by spelling out that the ban includes landfills, which do not yet have the approval of ADEM — which includes the Conecuh Woods landfill.

“I heard there might be some question about the issuing of the executive order and that there might be some challenge to it,” Baker said.

Baker said the moratorium will put the brakes on the Conecuh Woods landfill as well as other projects in the state, including proposals in Blount and Russell counties.

Conecuh Woods developers and supporters have argued that the landfill would bring needed revenue and jobs to Conecuh County. Opposition groups have said the revenue is not worth the potential harmful effects on the environment and property values.

Surrounding local governments — including the Atmore City Council and Escambia County Commission — passed resolutions opposing the landfill before the Conecuh County vote.