It appears this judge has determined that WCN and the county commissioners were not on the up and up with the county residents. You would think that WCN would know that hearings needed to be held BEFORE negotiating with the county.
Hmmmm. What other stretching of laws and rules go on at WCN?
Posted on Wed, Jul. 09, 2003
Judge stalls Harper landfill The ruling is a serious blow to Waste Connections' plan to put Wichita's trash in a nearby county. BY JEAN HAYS The Wichita Eagle
Residents of Harper County, who have been fighting to keep Wichita's trash out of their back yard, won a significant victory that will delay and possibly kill the proposed landfill.
Their victory means that Wichita's trash bills won't be dropping anytime soon.
It also will likely put more pressure on Sedgwick County commissioners to build a local landfill, setting off yet another round of trash battles.
Waste Connections, the largest trash company serving Wichita, has already started construction on a landfill for Wichita's trash near the town of Harper, about 40 miles southwest of Wichita.
Tri County Concerned Citizens, a group of opponents, sued to block the landfill. Late Monday, a district judge ruled in its favor.
Judge Robert Schmisseur ruled that the Harper County Commission had made up its mind to approve zoning for the landfill before holding hearings on the issue, denying residents a fair hearing.
The state will not issue a permit to operate a landfill unless the proper zoning is in place. The landfill cannot open without the permit.
Lawyers for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are still reviewing the judge's decision.
The ruling is "significant," said Bill Bider, who runs the state department that oversees landfills.
Waste Connections appealed the ruling Tuesday, according to Terry Moore, a lawyer who represents the California-based trash company.
"Our people have spent so much money on the project so far," he said. "This is just one more delay."
In Sedgwick County, commissioners are closely watching the appeal, which could take years, said commission Chairman Tim Norton.
In August, after the county budget is adopted, commissioners will discuss trash disposal and whether to seek proposals from developers wanting to build a local landfill.
"This Harper County thing may move us to quicker action," Norton said. "It certainly changes the landscape."
Sedgwick County leaves it up to individual trash companies to decide how to dispose of the area's trash. Waste Connections ships the bulk of Wichita's trash 150 miles to a landfill near Meno, Okla.
For the past two years Waste Connections has been trying to build a landfill in Harper County to cut shipping costs. It had promised Wichita residents a $2-a-month drop in trash bills when the landfill opened, perhaps this fall.
Residents in Harper County say the truck traffic, noise and odors would destroy their peaceful country lifestyle. They also fear the landfill would pollute the Chikaskia River, which is one of the cleanest rivers in Kansas and the source of drinking water for nearby towns.
Duh. The trash business is and always be run by gangsters and thieves. It wasn't that long ago that Dean Buntrock and his crew were breaking legs around Chicago. They've passed the torch to a new generation of thugs. Only difference is that now... well, never mind. There is no difference.
Residents lost their initial lawsuit to block the landfill in January when Schmisseur ruled in favor of the county, saying the zoning case was properly handled. That decision cleared the way for Waste Connections to seek a permit from the state.
Residents later charged that the Harper County Commission withheld evidence, and the judge agreed to reopen the lawsuit.
Among the new evidence was a contract the county signed with a Kansas City law firm to negotiate the landfill agreement with Waste Connections. The contract was signed six months before the zoning hearing.
The judge reversed his decision, citing those documents.
"It has been a very hard battle," said Sue Francis, one of the opponents. "We are happy that the judge saw fit to reverse his own decision."
Should the zoning case go back the Harper County Commission for reconsideration, the outcome could change. Two of the three commissioners have been replaced since November.
One commissioner chose not to run for re-election; another was recalled by voters. The third, commission Chairman Robert Sharp, is now the target of a recall effort. Sharp declined to comment on the judge's ruling.