Thursday, April 17, 2008

Residents Hear Testimony On Trash Transfer Station in South County

Upwards to 300 people heard testimony last week that Fred Weber Inc.'s application to construct a trash-transfer station near a residential area of New Baumgartner Road in Oakville should be denied.

The public hearing was scheduled as part of the review process for the Department of Natural Resources. Weber has attempted to construct the facility since 2003, when the County Council denied its construction with a unanimous vote. But last fall, Weber gained two victories in favor of the station when County Counselor Pat Redington settled a lawsuit with Weber attorneys to allow the station's construction. Redington has said she believed she was acting in the county's best interests to reach a settlement because Weber's attorneys were requesting attorneys' fees and civil-rights damages from the county that Redington quantified as "millions" of dollars.

St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Ann Crancer ruled earlier the trash-transfer station could be built at 5409 New Baumgartner Road. The proposed Oakville transfer station was one of three such facilities that Weber had been denied by the county, spurring legal challenges in 2004. In 2005, the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the county used faulty logic in denying Weber's request for the trash-transfer station.


"Democracy is not well served by a non-elected attorney making a 'behind-the-scenes' decision for a democratic body that is elected to speak for the people." — Ken Warren, St. Louis University political science professor
After Weber petitioned for the station, the County Council adopted an ordinance prohibiting trash-transfer stations within 1,000 feet of churches, residences, schools, child-care centers, nursery schools or nursing homes. Weber's site for the transfer station on Baumgartner Road is within 1,000 feet of Canaan Baptist Church.But the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals ruled the ordinance invalid be-cause the county did not have a public hearing nor receive a recommendation from the Planning Commission before amending its zoning ordinances.

The appellate court also ruled that public health was not the motivating factor behind the ordinance; public angst over Weber's proposed transfer stations was the motivator.

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