Thursday, October 12, 2000

Council orders landfill shut down

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A day after testifying that nothing could stop a Winton Place landfill from growing four times larger than permits allow, Cincinnati officials are now calling it an illegal operation.

        So City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to shut down Gray Road Fill.

        It also shut down C&D Waste Service, an affiliated trucking firm that hauled debris to the landfill.

        “I am sort of amazed,” said Leslie Poindexter, a Gray Road resident who has been protesting the landfill since 1994. “It shows the kind of leadership that is very unusual and very powerful.”

        Council members promised that the order to cease operations is only the first step. They are demanding to know why city building inspectors and other departments allowed the landfill to bypass the permit process and why officials did not honor last year's council directive to limit landfill operations.

        “At this point we think they can be shut down,” City Manager John Shirey told council. “I am saying and admitting that it should have been corrected before now, and it wasn't.”

        On Tuesday, building officials told council there was no legal remedy to stop the landfill from growing to 3.3 million cubic yards despite permits limiting it to 820,000. They said it is already at 1.3 million cubic yards.

        Owners of Gray Road Fill and C&D Waste Services did not attend Wednesday's meeting and could not be reached for comment. It is unknown how many employees will be affected by council's order.

        Councilman Todd Portune, who authored the motion to close the landfill, told residents the building inspector would notify company officials Wednesday that they were to cease operations.

        But he said he wanted to know why it was allowed to go on for so long.

        Last year, council passed a motion to deny the expansion of the landfill, determine whether the landfill had exceeded its allowable size and enforce zoning regulations prohibiting the trucking company.

        Councilman Charlie Winburn called the city's handling of the matter shameful.

        “The city administration is like a tornado out of control,” he said, adding that the situation was last brought to the council's attention 14 months ago. “How is it that this administration can thumb their noses at us in private meetings?”

        He challenged five council members to join him to change “the leadership problem,” which is the number of votes it would take to remove Mr. Shirey.

        “This administration has created one embarrassment after another,” he said.


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