Solano County

Potrero Hills Landfill appeals expansion decision

By From page A1 | January 18, 2013

FAIRFIELD — A legal dispute over the Suisun Marsh permit that Potrero Hills Landfill needs for its planned expansion will continue in another court venue.

Solano County Superior Court Judge Paul Beeman in late November 2012 ruled that the Bay Conservation and Development Commission must vacate the Suisun Marsh permit for the project. The commission was scheduled Thursday to either vacate the permit or appeal the decision.

Instead, commission officials said Thursday morning that landfill owner Waste Connection has appealed Beeman’s ruling to the state’s 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

County Supervisor John Vasquez is the county’s representative on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. He said after Thursday’s meeting that the commission decided to join in the appeal and defend its previous decision to grant the permit.

It’s the latest chapter in the long-running Potrero Hills Landfill saga. The landfill located in hills a few miles southeast of Suisun City serves Fairfield and Suisun City, as well as various communities from other counties.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors approved the expansion by a 3-2 vote in 2005. Since then, a variety of legal challenges have kept the expansion on hold, the latest being a suit over the Suisun Marsh permit.

Potrero Hills is located within the state’s Suisun Marsh protection area. A Suisun Marsh permit is one of several permits that Waste Connections must have before proceeding with an expansion to extend the landfill’s life span by 35 years.

The Bay Conservation and Development Commission issued a marsh permit in 2010. The Bay Area group called Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund sued on the basis that the project would put a portion of a seasonal stream called Spring Branch Creek into a concrete channel.

Beeman agreed that Potrero Hills Landfill cannot modify the creek in this fashion if a smaller expansion to avoid the creek is reasonable. Potrero Hills Landfill owners said a smaller expansion is economically infeasible, but Beeman ruled that they failed to provide sufficient evidence.

Now it will be up to another court to sort out the issue.

“The net effect is there’s no development permit and they can’t expand,” Sprawldef attorney Kelly Smith said Thursday. “There’s no permit. It will be a couple of years on appeal and we’re very confident Judge Beeman’s ruling will be upheld.”

Potrero Hills Landfill officials were unavailable for comment Thursday. Should owner Waste Connections win the appeal case, the marsh permit would be valid and the expansion could go forward.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

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