Magnolia Branch’s Billy Smith plaintiff in lawsuit

Published 4:29 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A grassroots group opposed to a landfill in Conecuh County has filed a lawsuit against the project.

The complaint filed by Citizens for a Clean Southwest Alabama, along with seven residents near the landfill, was filed in Conecuh County Circuit Court against Conecuh County commissioners and developer Conecuh Woods LLC.

James “Billy” Smith, general manager of Poarch’s Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve, is one of the plaintiffs.

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The lawsuit comes after the Conecuh County Commission voted 3-2 in April to approve the landfill application.

The Town of Repton — located near the proposed landfill site — filed a lawsuit against the project last month.

“It is unfortunate and tragic that three of our Conecuh County commissioners voted for an application that would place the nation’s largest landfill in our county,” CCSA chairman Johnny Andrews said. “These commissioners chose to ignore the overwhelming majority of the people and the large environmental and negative economic affects of such a vast project.”

The lawsuit lists five separate counts:

• That the commission’s decision to approve the landfill application is “arbitrary and capricious” because it is inconsistent with the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan.

• That the commission violated the law when it failed to make the host agreement public and open for discussion.

• That the host agreement is not valid because it was not approved by a quorum of the commission.

• That Conecuh County residents were denied due process because they had no say in the application after it was altered.

• That financial incentives hurt the ability of commissioners to be impartial.

“We regret we had to take this action, but by ignoring the law, our commissioners have given us no choice but to use the legal system of our county to defend the rights of the citizens,” Andrews said.

According to the lawsuit, Smith is involved because he “believes that archeological and historical resources related to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians exist on the property where the proposed Conecuh Woods solid waste management facility is to be located.”

Officials with the Conecuh County Commission and Conecuh Woods could not be reached at press time.