Judge rules lawsuit over landfill will proceed

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A lawsuit filed by the Town of Repton against a proposed landfill in Conecuh County will proceed, a judge ruled Tuesday morning.

Judge Burt Smithart, who was assigned to the case when local judges recused themselves, denied the motion of the defendants — the Conecuh County Commission, Conecuh Woods LLC and the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission — to dismiss the case.

In April, the Conecuh County Commission voted 3-2 to approve an application from Conecuh Woods LLC to build a 5,100-acre landfill near Repton. A week later, the commission voted 5-0 to ask the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission to give a favorable report on the landfill.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The court has subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint, as amended, because plaintiffs have standing to bring their claims, in part, because they have alleged a procedural injury that could impair plaintiffs’ concrete interests, including, among other things, negative impacts on property values, social and community perceptions, commerce, tax revenues and public health and safety,” Smithart ruled.

The judge also ruled that the defendants must answer questions from the plaintiffs within 30 days.

Repton Mayor Terri Carter said she was “elated” with the decision Tuesday morning. Smithart heard the case more than a month ago.

“I think that he could see what was going on,” Carter said of the judge.

Carter also said she was grateful for the show of support from surrounding cities and counties. The cities of Brewton, Atmore and Orange Beach, along with Escambia County and the Town of Flomaton, petitioned to join the lawsuit as plaintiffs. EscambiaCounty Commission Chairman David Stokes said the cities and county were accepted.

Attorneys for the county and Conecuh Woods could not be reached for comment.

It appears to me this was a selfish decision for the (commissioners), not for the citizens,” Carter said. “I’m glad the judge saw we have a right to be heard, even if our own commissioners did not.”

Opposition to the landfill was high, particularly at a public hearing held shortly before the commissioners’ vote. About 800 people showed up to oppose the landfill; only a handful were in support of it.

The landfill is stalled anyway for at least two years because state lawmakers passed a moratorium on new large landfills late last spring.
Carter said she hopes a new slate of commissioners will be elected next year who will oppose the landfill.