There is nothing like a good ol’ fashioned landfill controversy to keep the news mill filled. Let’s start back at the beginning with Cassandra Favre’s account of the April 2, 2019 Board of Supervisor’s meeting for the Sea Coast Echo:
The Hancock County Board of Supervisors on Monday voted 3-2 to deny Boudin’s Environmental Waste’s request to upgrade the dump site on Rifle Range Road to a Class One.
On Feb. 12, the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority hosted a public hearing and later, unanimously approved the application and amendment to the solid waste management plan.
What’s interesting here is the fact that Board of Supervisor President Blaine Lafontaine voted to allow the Class One Rubbish site as a then member of the Solid Waste Authority. He would late change his point of view on the issue when it came before him again at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting. There are a couple of other snippets that need further color:
According to an MDEQ report, LaFontaine said, statewide there has been a 22 percent increase in out-of-state rubbish in the past five years.
King Landfill is the only current active site in Hancock County, LaFontaine said. Over the past five years, the site went from receiving 22,000 tons to 18,000 tons and 11,000 from out-of-state down to 5,000, he said.
LaFontaine said that the question before the board is, “is there a need in Hancock County?” He said that maybe the only thing the board could look at as a “need” would be competitive pricing.
MDEQ recommends there be two Class One sites in the county, one in the north end and one in the south end. The site Boudin wants to operate is close to the south side, LaFontaine said.
Gotta give Cassandra props here because her account of the political crawfishin’ is a good depiction of the events that day. First Lafontaine bobs by citing a statewide factoid that, even if true, is not an accurate picture of the reality in Hancock County, which has seen a pretty steep decline in out of state trash. The third paragraph tells the tale because the three Sups that voted against the recommendation of the Solid Waste Authority were really more interested in protecting the existing landfill monopoly in Hancock Parish than fostering price competition and creating new jobs. District 1 Sup David Yarborough summed it up:
Supervisor David Yarborough said he “sees no reason why we couldn’t pass to allow this man to improve his business in Hancock County.”
“There have been three things in the past that have kept him from getting it: Politics, greed and jealousy,” Yarborough said.
This become topical again here on Slabbed because of this comment Lana Noonan left about the last Board of Supervisors meeting:
Board of Supervisors in Executive Session right now:
Agenda item J. County Attorney: J-4.
Motion passed 5-0 to enter Exec. Sess. for potential litigation concerning Shelter and Annex professionals and contractors: Phillips Pest Control and Boudin Environmental Services. Just came out of Exec. Sess. no action taken.
So I took a peek at the case on MEC and what I found was interesting as the matter appears to be fully briefed and awaiting a decision. First a disclaimer, here at Slabbed we’re not lawyers and we are likely never to be such. That said we do have some experience to lend in these matters so that everyone can benefit from knowing what is going on in their community. Following is the brief team Boudin submitted in support of the Bill of Exceptions:
The above is long and is mostly exhibits in support of their claim and I’m not going to spend much time analyzing it. Boudin’s legal team made some very concise arguments including the claim that the Supervisors back filled their minutes with a resolution that never occurred. I recommend reading Cassandra Favre’s story and compare it to what the Supervisors later said happened. It appears that particular complaint from Team Boudin has legs. Next up is the Supervirsors reply brief and their exhibits, which were filed with the Court separately:
And now the Supervisor’s Exhibits, which I contend contains the most single important piece of evidence in the report of Compton Engineering on the need for another Class One site:
Here is what the Supervisors said in their reply brief about Compton’s report:
Compton reviewed the application and opined that BES failed to demonstrate a need to meet the statutory requirements for amendment of the Plan. (Supervisors R.E. 1, R. 1537·1550).
Here is what the Compton report actual said in its summary:
As indicated in the review the Applicant does provide some potentially positive and significant effects of an additional Class I site. As previously stated in the review these potential benefits are operating/business decisions to be contemplated by the HCSW A. The economic benefits the applicant presents while hard to specifically quantify are in fact potentially valid benefits to the public and local government entities. The applicants proposed site as submitted does appear to have adequate capacity to handle the waste stream that they have indicated they would potentially be hauling to the site…
So it appears the three Supervisors that voted no were relying on some nonexistent conclusions from their engineer. The question of law presented by the parties appears to be the exact nature of the duties of the Board of Supervisors because when it comes to landfills it apparently is to either to protect the existing landfill monopoly or get a better deal for the taxpayers through competition. In their rebuttal Team Boudin was all over the fact that three Supervisor’s relied on engineering conclusions that were never made:
Now back to the last Supervisor’s meeting and their executive session topic of this litigation. Sources with direct knowledge of the litigation that are not authorized to speak to the media indicated to Slabbed that Team Boudin made a settlement offer wherein he would only take trash from his own operations and not third party customers. The Supervisor’s evidently refused to play because settlement talks have collapsed.
Pop some popcorn folks, indications are this case is ultimately headed for the MSSC. Stay tuned.