Madison County is now facing a lawsuit following the board of supervisors’ decision to hold off on conducting an updated needs assessment in relation to the current solid waste plan.
A needs assessment is the only thing standing between the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) permit board and its ruling on NCL Waste’s permit requests.
NCL Waste is seeking permits to construct a landfill on a 166-acre property located at 2858 North County Line Road near Ridgeland, with approximately 89 acres projected to be designated for disposal.
Earlier this year, the MDEQ permit board voted to table NCL Waste’s permit requests until the Madison County board of supervisors conducts an updated needs assessment for its solid waste plan.
When the board voted 3-2 to hold off on the needs assessment pending the results of the Ridgeland annexation case and final word on the plans for expanding both the Little Dixie and Canton landfills, NCL Waste sued the county.
Expansion of the Canton landfill could extend its life by approximately 100 years, according to Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee, thus reducing the need for an additional site. Also, the proposed site of the NCL landfill is located within the boundaries of the area Ridgeland is seeking to annex.
Despite the lawsuit from NCL Waste, the county stands firm in its decision.
“Madison County was sued, and so as with any lawsuit, we are going to vigorously defend the county,” said county attorney Mike Espy, who will represent the supervisors in the case. “The motion that prevailed 3-2 was legal and proper and well within the discretion of the board of supervisors.”
District One Supervisor Sheila Jones, District Two Supervisor Trey Baxter and District Three Supervisor Gerald Steen voted to wait for the results of the two potential landfill expansions and the Ridgeland annexation trial before conducting a needs assessment. District Four Supervisor Karl Banks and District Five Supervisor Paul Griffin voted no.
The proposed landfill would be located near the existing Little Dixie landfill and would be the third to be constructed in Madison County.
The issue goes back as far as 2008, however, the case garnered much attention last year when NCL Waste filed for six permits with MDEQ, which are required before a landfill can be constructed in the state of Mississippi.
NCL Waste submitted applications for the following permits: a solid waste management permit for the operation of the proposed municipal solid waste landfill; a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for storm water runoff; a wastewater pretreatment permit for the discharge of leachate to a permitted wastewater treatment facility; an Air Permit to Construct air emission equipment; a Title V air permit for the operation of air emission equipment; and a water quality certification regarding impacts to waters of the state and wetlands.
The MDEQ permit board reviewed not only the permit applications, but also considered the responses from the lengthy public comment period before reaching its decision to table the matter.
Until recently, the Madison County board of supervisors took no action regarding the landfill.
Then, in June, attorney Johnny Brunini, who represents NCL Waste, penned a letter to the Madison County board of supervisors requesting to be on the agenda for the mid-June meeting. In the letter, Brunini requested Madison County direct its contractor to prepare the updated needs assessment, including a determination of need for the proposed landfill, adding that NCL Waste would reimburse the county for any costs.
However, before the meeting, Brunini withdrew the request to present to the board citing the need for additional time to “meet with the board attorney and other interested parties to more thoroughly evaluate the options and alternatives available to the parties prior to any final action by the board concerning the request made by NCL in its June 9, 2020 letter.”
In July, following a discussion in executive session, it was announced that the supervisors voted not to conduct the assessment at this time.
Now, whether or not the county conducts a needs assessment will be determined through litigation.
Attorney Maison Heidelberg, who is representing NCL Waste in litigation against Madison County, offered “no comment on the pending legal issues.”