Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Warren County fights landfill proposal

Judge hears arguments in lawsuit

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Warren County tried to make a case Monday for building a neighborhood of single-family homes instead of a new landfill in Union Township.

        Browning-Ferris Indus tries is suing the county over its refusal to rezone land next to Bigfoot Run landfill, which closed when it reached capacity in May 1999. BFI's central argument is that the adjacent land cannot profitably be developed for anything other than a landfill, and so denying rezoning vio lates the landowner's constitutional right to earn a living.

        “The proposed landfill use — with all of the controls and restrictions — is a reasonable and proper use, and we feel the public interest would be advanced by expanding the landfill,” said Francis Barrett, attorney for BFI. “There's probably no greater public interest than being able to handle solid waste in a safe, efficient and affordable manner.”

        Warren County has no operating landfill now. Instead, trash is hauled outside the county — most of it to Rumpke's Hamilton County landfill.

        Expanding Bigfoot Run makes sense, Mr. Barrett said, because infrastructure such as an entrance is already there.

        The county, however, says area residents have endured their share of noise, odors and other inconveniences, and the next landfill should go elsewhere.

        Bill Brausch, who owns a log home near the site, testified Monday that he frequently encountered dirt, litter and liquids on the road when jogging near the land fill entrance.

        Land surveyor and subdivision planner Tom McDougall also testified for the county Monday, saying the site could be developed into a neighborhood of single-family homes on large sites.

        “I felt there was a profit to be made,” Mr. McDougall said — a profit of more than $900,000, he estimated.

        BFI's attorney disputed the profit estimates.

        The trial, which began in late July but did not finish because of scheduling conflicts, is expected to wrap up today.

        Common Pleas Judge P. Daniel Fedders likely will not rule for several weeks on whether to overturn the county commissioners' zoning denial.


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