Judge grants temporary stay to landfill permit, sets July hearing

An approved permit for a north Baton Rouge landfill is on hold at least until a court hearing is held on July 21 after 19th Judicial District Court Judge Michael Caldwell issued a temporary stay.

A motion for the stay was filed by attorneys hired by the Metro Council to fight a permit approved by the state Department of Environmental Quality in April. Caldwell issued the temporary stay Monday.

The landfill in question would be located on Brooklawn Road in north Baton Rouge and was approved to take in industrial waste over the objections of Metro-Council members, Mayor Kip Holden and other elected officials as well as a number of resident of nearby Alsen. Some Alsen residents were in favor of the permit approval, primarily because of company promises of financial donations to community programs.

Louisiana Land Acquisitions first applied for a landfill permit in 1997 under a slightly different name, but that was denied in 2000 after DEQ found the application to be technically deficient. The company applied for a new permit in 2008, but that too was denied because DEQ found that there was already enough capacity in existing industrial waste landfills nearby.

The company sued, but before the case went to trial the company asked for a chance to resubmit its application. The next permit application was very similar but narrowed the potential service area for the landfill to address the previous concern about over-capacity.

DEQ approved the permit for the industrial waste landfill on April 4.

The Metro-Council voted in April to hire an attorney to challenge the permit approval in court.

The city-parish filed a lawsuit in May and asked the court to issue a stay against action on the permit until the court makes a decision on the lawsuit, said Daria Diaz, attorney representing the city-parish.

Part of the argument in the lawsuit is that DEQ didn’t have the authority to issue the permit because a previous permit that had been denied was still under review by the court, Diaz said.

Also in May, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network filed a lawsuit against DEQ asking the 19th Judicial District Court to throw out the permit approval for similar reasons outlined in the city-parish lawsuit.

Diaz said the both lawsuits will be consolidated into one action.

Marylee Orr, executive director of LEAN, said it’s likely that the city-parish and LEAN’s lawsuits will likely be combined by the court.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that the judge is taking this seriously,” Orr said. “Our members were very discouraged when they saw that it (the permit) was approved.”

Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.