OJAI : City to Study Legality of Landfill Initiative

The Ojai City Council authorized its attorney Tuesday night to explore legal options to keep an initiative off the November ballot that would bypass county supervisors and authorize a dump at Weldon Canyon.

The council questioned the legality of a move by Taconic Resources of San Diego County to put the issue up for a countywide vote and asked City Atty. Monte Widders for a report April 26.

"I believe this represents a significant challenge for Ojai's efforts to prevent construction of a landfill," City Manager Andrew Belknap said. But he also asked the attorney to investigate whether the city has the right to campaign against the initiative.

City officials and residents have fought to keep a dump out of Weldon Canyon, which is about five miles south of Ojai. Residents fear that a landfill there would increase traffic on California 33 and cause air pollution and health problems.

But Taconic Resources representatives said that ballot initiatives have been used elsewhere for similar purposes and that the process is legal.

"I don't think they're going to find anything to invalidate it," said Richard Chase, general partner of Taconic.

Taconic, which is negotiating with Waste Management Inc. to take over a lease on the land at Weldon Canyon, is now working to get petition language approved so that it can secure 18,753 valid signatures before June 6.

The few Ojai residents in attendance Tuesday night pledged their support to fight the initiative.

"We'll do whatever is necessary to fight this initiative," said Andrew Stasse, a member of the Coalition for Environmental Education, formerly known as the Coalition to Stop Weldon Canyon Dump.

"Basically, we're firing up the engines again."

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