by Max Brantley
A circuit judge has ruled that Little Rock did not have the authority under state law to pass an ordinance in May preventing BFI Waste Management Systems from putting waste from gas drilling in its landfill on Mabelvale Pike. Here's the opinion. The ordinance was passed because of neighbors' complaints about the smell. The operator, Allied Waste Industries, took action to tamp down the odors, but the city found the work insufficient.
City Attorney Tom Carpenter faults the judge's ruling as inconsistent on the law. Even if an appeal is possible, he noted that it couldn't likely be decided before the landfill's scheduled closure next spring. The judge's order said the lawsuit could move to consideration of damages.
Chuck Nestrud, attorney for BFI, said the company will move ahead with its plan to seek damages. He said it has lost $60,000 a day in revenues since the ordinance, but he couldn't readily estimate how much of that is profit. He said he couldn't predict when the company might resume taking the waste. "You don't turn a market on or off on a moment's notice," he said. Nestrud contends that the company had remedied the odor before the ordinance was passed.