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TCEQ grants Northeast Austin landfill expansion
Thursday, September 10, 2009 by Austin Monitor
Local opponents to the expansion of BFI Waste Management’s
Administrative Law Judge William Newcastle, who presided over an earlier two-week hearing on the landfill expansion, told the commission members upfront: BFI had prevailed on its burden of proof for its permit and implied that the permit should be granted.
The dominant issue for opponents was compatibility with the neighborhood,
And, if the issue of compatibility was to arise, then it should be pointed out that the landfill came first, not the surrounding neighborhoods, said
“This landfill facility has been the dominant land use in the immediate area for decades,”
As BFI Attorney Paul Gosselink told the three-member commission, BFI had prevailed on all 26 issues raised by opponents. Gosselink quoted the administrative law judge’s opinion that many of the opposing science experts were unpersuasive and made no sense, labeling their findings “junk science.”
The key point that appeared to sell
Complaints about the noise and stench of the landfill also did not appear to hold water with the commission. While not perfect, both BFI and Waste Management seem to have made progress in those areas over the last two years, significantly decreasing complaints with additional investments in their aging facilities, which are expected to have some kind of smell after two decades of use.
In his comments, opponents’ attorney Jim
The agency staff argued in favor of the permit. Opponents noted the presence of 49 businesses, a school and a day care within a one-mile radius, as well as 1,887 residences. This was a desired high-growth area, despite the landfills’ residence, and that growth should be encouraged. In fact, this area was the highest growth area in
The decision, when it came, was swift. Chair Buddy Garcia said BFI had met the burden of proof and argued that the fact that growth had continued in the area, in spite of a landfill, was a point that favored the landfill operator. Garcia also noted that 83 percent of the surrounding properties were either open or industrial space.
Bryan Shaw made the motion for the permit. He acknowledged the compatibility concerns, but reiterated the applicant had met its burden of proof.
The permit was approved unanimously.
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