Board Told to Reconsider Landfill Plan

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ordered the Board of Supervisors to reconsider its approval of a zoning permit to expand the Chiquita Canyon landfill.

Judge Paul Boland issued a 22-page ruling Monday, saying the supervisors failed to properly consider the environmental impact of sedimentation basins needed for the expansion. The basins are intended to prevent landfill-tainted water and silt from fouling the local water supply and environment.

Boland said the proposal's environmental impact report does not address the basins, even though their construction will require the removal of about 36,000 yards of earth.

The proposed expansion has pitted environmentalists and neighbors against landfill operators and the county. If completed, it would more than double capacity of the landfill through 2019, adding space for 23 million tons of trash.

The landfill operator, Chiquita Canyon Landfill Inc., is seeking to use 103 acres of the 592-acre landfill property.

Both sides claimed victory last month when Boland issued a tentative ruling ordering reconsideration of the expansion by the Board of Supervisors. Dump operators called the ruling a temporary setback.

"Obviously, there are questions to be answered," said Joel Moskowitz, the attorney for landfill opponents who filed a lawsuit over the expansion plan last year. "It's really satisfying that at least the Board of Supervisors will look at it again."

Jim Arnone, an attorney for the dump, said he had not seen the ruling and could not comment.

Last May, the Board of Supervisors approved the zoning permit needed to expand the dump, near the unincorporated community of Val Verde.

Neighbors are split on the issue. Supporters look forward to the receipt of annual payments from the landfill operator for a community fund. The payments are to begin at $250,000 a year, increasing to $280,000 by 2019.

Opponents have joined forces in the lawsuit with Clean Water Action, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

Debate over the expansion dates to 1989, when Laidlaw Waste Systems Inc. applied for a permit. The landfill now belongs to USA Waste Inc. and is operated by the firm's subsidiary, Chiquita Canyon Landfill Inc.

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